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Damien Echols

May, 1996

Q: Please state your age, date of birth, and full legal name with an explanation as to why you changed it. Some people seem to be intimidated by the suggested link to 'that movie,' hence the connection to the so-called 'ritual slayings.'Were you a fan of "The Omen" films?

DE: I am 21 years old, my birthdate was December 11, 1974. My full name is Damien Wayne Echols. My name was changed to Echols when I was adopted and I chose the name Damien because of Father Damien, the priest who spent his life in the Hawaiian islands taking care of lepers. No, I was not a fan of "The Omen" movies; I found them to be quite boring.

How long have you known Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr? Please list any and all incidents of unlawful activity with these people.

Jason Baldwin has been my best friend for the past six or seven years. I have only met Jessie Misskelley a few times; we were on speaking terms but were not really 'friends' because I never truly knew him. The present situation is the only brush with the law that I have been involved in with either person.

If you have any theories about the actual killer(s) of Christopher Byers, Steve Branch, and Michael Moore, please elaborate.

I have no doubt that the actual killer is John Mark Byers. He had the knife with his son's blood on it, not to mention the fact that he could never keep his alibi straight. It was also proven in court that whoever killed those children had the skill of a surgeon and Byers was a jewel cutter. There was also testimony that his knife could have made the wounds on the children because the blade was consistent with the cut pattern.

Please offer your opinion of how 'small-town mentality' and/or 'poor man's justice' figured in to your conviction.

People assumed that I was guilty and had made up their minds beforehand, simply based on my taste in clothes, music, etc. In a larger city, I would never have even been noticed but I happened to be in a small, conservative, traditional town where I was looked at as a 'freak.'

Do you have any faith in our present system of justice? Do you look forward to the HBO documentary, Paradise Lost:The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, and its potential to shed new light on the case?

I have absolutely no faith in the justice system. My faith is placed in the hope that people will realize that they are about to execute an innocent man. I'm extremely optimistic about the HBO documentary. It has already helped a tremendous amount; I have been steadily gaining support since it was previewed in several cities.

Please list what you consider to be the three greatest misconceptions about you as suggested by the media coverage of your case.

The first would be the belief that I am a Satanist. I am not, nor have I ever been, a Satanist. I am a Wiccan and anyone familiar with our religion knows that we would never harm a child. The second is that I am only interested in things of a 'dark sided' nature. I don't deny that I love a good scary book or movie as much as the next guy but I'm as normal and human as anyone else. I have other interests besides horror. The third is that the media portrayed me as a 'cold,' 'uncaring,' or 'unfeeling.' I have the same emotions as you. I laugh, I cry, I love and I fear, just like everyone else. But I was in a very stressful situation; I was confused and frightened and I was being accused of things I did not do. I was trying to stay as calm as possible but that doesn't mean I wasn't feeling anything.

Did you ever 'confess' or admit-jokingly or otherwise-to committing the murders of these three boys?

No, and it would have been impossible for me to have done what they testified because police records show that I was already in jail during the timeframe brought up in that testimony. [Note: During the trial, the witnesses who claimed they heard Damien make these statements could not confirm a date on which they heard it narrowing it down to, "May sometime."]

What's your opinion of the Arkansas Department of Corrections?

It's the most corrupt place I've ever seen; everything involves politics. I have just finished up a lawsuit with them concerning their abuse against me. I've witnessed the abuse of many other inmates since I've been here also but they get away with it because no one cares about these men. They are society's rejects so they have nowhere to turn for help.

What would you do if you were released immediately? Would you pursue a career of any kind?

I would love to travel and meet in person all the people who have offered their love and support. As far as a career, I would love to eventually own a secondhand bookstore. I love to read and it would be pretty peaceful. I just want to do something calm and quiet; I've had enough 'excitement' to last a long, long time.

Have you many friends that believe in your innocence? Considering how the media made you look, are you sensing that some correspondents are only after a 'brush with celebrity?'

Everyone I have become friends with believes in my innocence. I can usually weed out those who only want a 'brush with celebrity.' It's very upsetting to me when I hear from people who don't really care one way or another and just want an autograph or something like that. It's extremely depressing.

Why were you so 'cocky' or defiant during the whole trial phase? It's believed by many to be a major factor in your conviction.

Because I knew that no matter what everyone else believed or thought, I knew I was innocent. I knew the truth and I refused to allow anyone to degrade for something I knew wasn't true. The public opinion didn't matter to me because I knew the truth. It wouldn't have mattered how I acted because the public had already convicted me before the trial even started.

How do you feel about the death penalty? Have your opinions changed since your sentencing?

Before the crimes, I was 100% in favor of capital punishment. But I after I arrived here, I realized that these men are human beings; these are people who have hopes, dreams and ambitions of their own, no matter what they may have done in the past. I still believe people should be punished for their crimes but I don't believe death is the answer.

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Jason Baldwin

November, 1996

Q: Please state your age, date of birth, and full legal name.

JB: I'm 19. My birthdate is April 11, 1977, and my full name is Charles Jason Baldwin.

How long have you know Damien and Jessie?

I have known Damien since I was in seventh grade, so three years out in the free world, and three years in here, so I'll say six years. I've known Jessie since sixth grade, so I've known him for seven years.

Please list any and all incidents of unlawful activity with these people.

None.

If you have any theories about the actual killer(s) of Christopher Byers, Steve Branch, and Michael Moore, please elaborate.

I don't want to say. I don't know. I don't want to do to someone else what was done to us. It seems like John Byers did it, but just from what I know, and I don't want to accuse anyone.

Please offer your opinion of how 'small-town mentality' and/or 'poor man's justice' figured in to your conviction. I think it did figure into it.

They were all dead-set against us, and we didn't have the money someone like O.J. had. They didn't really take anything we said seriously anyway. Anything we said, they just said we were lying. They couldn't catch the right people, so they had to get somebody. They would have gone after somebody wrong anyway, and you might have been talking to someone else right here.

Do you have any faith in our present system of justice?

Not really, but its the best one that's around right now, so we have to work with it. We have to have some kind of justice system. Like a lot of the guys who are locked up here deserve to be locked up, but sometimes the system does get the wrong person.

Do you think the documentary, Paradise Lost: The Robin Hood Hills Child Murders, has potential to shed new light on the case?

Yes, I think the film will do a lot of good. Its good to hear both sides. I didn't get a chance to talk and tell my side of the story, so maybe the film will show both sides.

Please list what you consider to be the three greatest misconceptions about you as suggested by the media coverage of your case.

I really haven't heard too much about me in the media. They think I was in a cult or something, just because I was friends with Damien, and I wore Metallica T shirts. They even had them in court. They brought clothes out of my closet. They didn't bring any of my other clothes to court; just some black T shirts. I had white T shirts too. The fact is, I never really wore all black anyway, because I didn't have a single pair of black pants.

Did you ever 'confess' or admit-jokingly or otherwise-to committing the murders of these three boys?

No.

What is your opinion of Varner Prison?

I don't know. I wouldn't recommend coming here for a permanent visit. Actually I thought it was going to be like the movie "Tango and Cash" with Sylvester Stallone. They were going through the prison, and it was all real dark and everyone was throwing burning paper and fighting. That's what I thought it was going to be like. When I was in County Jail, we didn't have a commissary, and we only had one channel on TV, and there was a lock-down almost all the time. When I got here, they had a commissary, movies on TV and everyone was running around drinking sodas! I was like "man, I'm almost free, ain't I?" I didn't have a police escort with me everywhere I went. I still don't recommend it, though.

What would you do if you were released immediately?

Would you pursue a career of any kind? Well, I wouldn't be able to get away from my mom, I know that. I might open a music store. Something with music and skateboard stuff, and maybe an arcade or something. I could also keep my brother out of trouble if I gave him a job there. I don't really care much about getting rich, It would just be nice to make some money and help my brother and my mom.

Considering how the media made you look, are you sensing that some correspondents are only after a 'brush with celebrity?'

Most people write to me because they think I'm innocent, but once in a while I get some off-the-wall stuff from people. This one girl wrote to me about Satanism and stuff. She was thinking I did it, and she wanted to write to me because she thought I was guilty. I keep in touch with [Steve Baker] in Memphis. He's real religious and he talks about God a lot.
He's okay.

Will you act differently during the retrial?

Yes. I will act differently, because I pretty much know what to expect, and this time I won't be as scared of the media. I might get a couple of "contempt of courts" if I talk too much. How do you feel about the death penalty? I don't like it, because Damien's over there in Tucker so I know there can be innocent people on death row. What if someone gets executed, and then they find out they were innocent? Sometimes it takes years to find out that someone is innocent. I mean, some people deserve everything they get, but if there's a possibility of making a mistake, I don't like it.

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Jessie Misskelley

November, 1996

Q: Please state your age, date of birth, and full legal name.

JM: I'm 21, my Birthday is July 10, 1975. My full name is Jessie Loyd Misskelly, Jr.

How long have you know Damien and Jason?

I knew Damien for about a year before the trial, and Jason, I'm going to say about four years. I've been in here for three years, so that adds three years...

Please list any and all incidents of unlawful activity with these people.

None.

If you have any theories about the actual killer(s) of Christopher Byers, Steve Branch, and Michael Moore, please elaborate.

I believe John Mark Byers killed those three boys. I can't really say for sure though, because I wasn't there, but I do believe he did it.

Please offer your opinion of how 'small-town mentality' and/or 'poor man's justice' figured in to your conviction.

To me, money ain't everything. Anyone can make money, but I do think the outcome of the trial would have been different if we all had money. If I had money, I wouldn't be sitting here. People were saying that Damien "looked" guilty. What do you say about that? He was weird, still is, but that's just the way he is. Not many people in school liked him, but he wouldn't kill anyone. He wore black T shirts and all, but going to prison just because you wear black? That don't mean nothing. Everyone wears black.

Do you have any faith in our present system of justice?

I don't like the way they worked it, I mean, to me, justice will never be right. The way they're treating it right now, it'll never be right.

Do you think the documentary, Paradise Lost: The Robin Hood Hills Child Murders, has potential to shed new light on the case?

I've never seen the film, but what I hear about it is, it's showing that we're innocent, which we are. Everybody needs to know that.

Please list what you consider to be the three greatest misconceptions about you as suggested by the media coverage of your case.

Hmm, I don't know. I know I'm not mean. If people know me they know I'm not mean. I can't really think of anything else.

Do you believe that there are Satanic cults in West Memphis?

No, I don't believe it. I've never been to a Satanic cult meeting. I never heard of it happening, and if it did, I wouldn't go to one. I never did go nowhere. I was either working with my dad, or I'm at my girlfriend's house. That's about as far as I go.

It was said that your I.Q. is low. What do you have to say about that?

Well, I'm not smart, you know, I try to do the best I can. Just because I dropped out of school, that was my mistake. I should have never quit. That was my fault. You know if I had kept on going to school I'd be smarter than I am today. I was too busy talking to girls.

What do you think of Vicky Hutcheson?

Vicky Hutcheson was all right at first, but I don't like her. I did tell her I thought the cops were going to think I did it, and that I thought they were going to come and ask me about it. Because of some trouble I'd been in, I knew they're going to come to me. I mean, everybody's going to listen to the cops. They think the cops are never wrong. Well, the cops are wrong.

Describe the interrogation.

They talked to me for hours. Not even about the crime at first, they just started talking to me, and when they asked me something, basically I was just saying the same things they were saying. It was like they already knew who did it. I just told them what they were wanting me to say. I just wanted to go home.

What is your opinion of Varner Prison?

It's all right. They treat me all right. It's better than some places. I do have some friends here.

What would you do if you were released immediately? Would you pursue a career of any kind?

I'd get married. I'd probably go away somewhere like Jamaica for a while, and then I'd come back to West Memphis and be a mechanic like my dad, or maybe get back into wrestling. I wouldn't leave West Memphis. It's where I was brought up. It's where I live.

Do you have many friends that believe in your innocence?

I have a lot of friends. I have a lot of friends who know I'm innocent, and I get a lot of letters from people who know I'm innocent.

Considering how the media made you look, are you sensing that some correspondents are only after a 'brush with celebrity?'

I don't think I'm a celebrity.

Will you act differently during the retrial?

I'd hold my head up! Sometimes I wish I had gotten up there on the stand, but then I guess I'm glad I didn't. I just wanted to tell them they were wrong. They should have done their job. I wish I had told them that they should have done their job right, and I wanted another judge.

How do you feel about the death penalty?

Oh, I believed in it at first. I used to think that if someone did kill someone, they ought to kill them right off the bat, they shouldn't wait. But now, I think again, and I think it's wrong. If they had given me the death sentence, I'd tell them they might as well do it right now, right off the bat. I wouldn't want to wait. Waiting would be the worst part. The fact that Damien's on death row is proof that they can get the wrong man. I think Damien's doing the right thing. He's still fighting for it.