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Damien Wayne Echols (born Michael Wayne Hutcheson on December 11, 1974) is one of the three men convicted in a triple homicide in West Memphis, Arkansasmarker.


Echols was convicted of murder by a jury and sentenced to die by lethal injection. As of April 16, 2009, the Arkansas Supreme Court has agreed to consider an affidavit of jury misconduct filed under seal by a Little Rockmarker attorney in 2008.

Media response

The case has received considerable attention. Many critics charge that the arrests and convictions were a miscarriage of justice inspired by a misguided moral panic, and that the defendants were wrongfully convicted during a period of intense media scrutiny and so-called "Satanic panic".

The HBO documentary films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and a book on the convictions, Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt, all make the case that the convictions were wrongfully obtained and three innocent men are in prison. Another sequel, Paradise Lost 3, is currently being filmed. A second book, written earlier than Mara Leveritt's is less supportive. That book, Blood of Innocents by Guy Reel Marc and Perrusquia, examines both sides of the case without coming to any definitive conclusion. In light of the DNA tests completed in 2007 that excluded the defendants as contributors, Perrusquia has joined those who publicly doubt whether the convictions were just.

Echols' case has seen significant support from numerous rock and pop musicians, who have popularized the case by staging fund-raisers including benefit CDs and an art auction with some of his own work.

Echols co-wrote the lyrics to the song "Army Reserve", on Pearl Jam's self-titled album. Punk musician Michale Graves, formerly of The Misfits has been writing music to coincide with Echols' poetry. Echols and Graves worked together on an album, illusions, released October 2007.

Later life

Echols has published his memoirs, Almost Home: My Life Story Vol. 1. His poetry has appeared in the Porcupine Literary Arts magazine (Volume 8, Issue 2), and he has written non-fiction for the Arkansas Literary Forum.

Echols is currently seeking to overturn his conviction based on trial error including juror misconduct, as well as with the results of a DNA Status Report filed on July 17, 2007, which concluded "none of the genetic material recovered at the scene of the crimes was attributable to Mr. Echols, Echols' co-defendant, Jason Baldwin, or defendant Jessie Misskelley. . . . [a]lthough most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offenses, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants."

Advanced DNA and other scientific evidence — combined with additional evidence from several different witnesses and experts — released in October 2007 has thrown the original ruling into question. A hearing on his petition for a writ of habeas corpus is pending in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

See also


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