Scott Ellington, the prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’s Second Judicial District, said in a recent interview that, “There are no ongoing investigations by governmental investigative authorities” concerning the West Memphis Three case.
Ellington may be the only person on the planet who believes there is “closure” in my case.
I have heard the word closure more than once. The first time was when I was told that the Arkansas attorney general suggested that the State Supreme Court justices reject the appeal of my death penalty, because “we all need closure on the West Memphis Three case.” It was easy for him to seek closure, of course; he was not sitting in solitary confinement on death row for a crime he did not commit. Thankfully, the Supreme Court did not listen and ruled unanimously to review our wrongful convictions.
No one wants closure more than me, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley and the families of the murdered children. I for one am tired of reliving the horror of my arrest, wrongful conviction and the 18 long years, dying every day in an isolated cell, waiting to be executed. And while the Alford plea almost three years ago enabled us to be released, we neither were exonerated nor were the real killer(s) brought to justice. We continue to fight for both.
Now with the opening of “Devil’s Knot,” the latest film on this tragedy, some are once again calling for closure. After all, aren’t four documentaries, a feature film, books, numerous network television features, hundreds of newspaper and magazine stories, blogs, bloggers, websites and God knows how many tweets on the murders of the three boys, enough? I guess not. People are still compelled by this story and want answers to the many lingering questions surrounding the case. True closure won’t happen until those questions are answered.
Unfortunately, there has been little cooperation from the authorities. We have tried through the U.S. federal court in Washington, D.C., to obtain case files and records of forensic testing performed by the FBI at the request of the West Memphis Police Department during the initial investigation of this case. Incredibly, the FBI says that it cannot find those records. There is nothing, however, to prevent the state of Arkansas from making public its own records of correspondence with — and testing results from — the FBI’s investigation into the murders. Indeed, in order to really bring closure to the West Memphis Three case and to help provide answers to the many questions about this case, including who really killed the three boys that dreadful day 21 years ago, the State of Arkansas should simply open up all of its investigative and forensic files on this case. The sunlight of public disclosure and inspection of those files will help to shine a light on the truth here.
Finally, along with the state of Arkansas opening up its investigative files, DA Scott Ellington should keep his promise to review new evidence given to him by my defense team in a meaningful manner, and he should avoid giving comfort to the real killer and discouraging new witnesses from coming forward by proclaiming that the case is “closed.”
Damien Echols was released from death row in Arkansas in August of 2011. He and his wife, Lorri Davis, live in New York City.