(West Memphis, AR) On Tuesday, a judge decided family members of the three boys who were murdered in West Memphis 20 years ago cannot see all the evidence in the case.
The judge said they can’t have access to all of it since it may be needed in a future trial.
The attorney for Pam Hicks and Mark Byers, the parents of two of the victims, told News Channel 3 that judge’s decision “was not a big deal.”
“They would have like to have had all the evidence. That would have been the icing on the cake. But the ending goal was answering questions,” attorney Ken Swindle said. “The primary reason the parents hired me was to find answers, and they feel like for the first time in 20 years they have answers about what happened in those woods.”
The parents started their hunt for information last year, but Swindle said, after a prosecutor ignored their request to see all the evidence in the case they hired him and they sued.
They were then given them limited access to evidence in the prosecutors file. That file, Swindle said, included a key piece of information.
A letter from a man named Bennie Guy that was written in 2012.
In the letter, Guy offers up the names of four people who he said were involved in the gruesome killings of the three cub scouts. He said two of those men confessed to him.
“That letter lead to the discovery of the witness Billy Stewart. Billy and Bennie both gave detailed accounts only people who were talking to folks responsible for this would have known about,” Swindle said.
But the judge wrote he couldn’t make law enforcement, “act on the plaintiff’s theory of the criminal case,” so the motion was thrown out.
Swindle argues it was evidence not theories in his motion, and added that by finding what they did through this case his clients have gained some closure.
”The only question they have left is why prosecutor Ellington had this evidence for 13 months and hasn’t made a phone call?”
Swindle said he will not seek an appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
News Channel 3 contacted the attorney for the City of West Memphis and he said that he was pleased by the judge’s decision.
The documents filed at last week’s hearings named new possible suspects in the 1993 murders of three 8-year-old boys.
One of those named is Terry Hobbs, her ex-husband and the stepfather of victim Stevie Branch.
Also on the lists David Jacoby, LG Hollingsworth and Buddy Lucas.
A witness says several years after the killings, Buddy Lucas admitted he and the three others took part in the murders.
The paperwork says Hobbs and Jacoby invited Lucas and Hollingsworth, who were teens at the time to go with them and get high.
It says the four were drinking and smoking pot when Hobbs saw several kids spying on them.
The affidavit claims Jacoby grabbed one of the children and beat him severely while Hobbs ordered Lucas and Hollingsworth to grab and hold the other two boys.
The witness says Lucas told him Hobbs killed the boys with a pocket knife and mutilated their bodies.
Lucas, who is described as being mentally ‘slow,’ was reportedly sent away from the area for several years immediately after the incident.
The witness states once he learned what happened he contacted the West Memphis police but no one returned his call.
Judge Victor Hill is hearing from parents of the three victims who want access to evidence in the murders of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers in 1994.
Pam Hicks, the mother of Stevie Branch, wants to examine some of the items that belonged to her son and were found at the murder scene.
Hicks previously told us, “I do want to know that it has not been contaminated if they need it, if something [were] to come out of this,” said Hicks. “I definitely don’t want to touch it. I just want to have a peace of mind and ease of knowing that they still have it.”
Police Chief Donald Oakes says they still have it, all of it, and most of it is sealed.
Oakes said Hicks requested to see all of the evidence.
He said they probably could have let her see some of it, had the prosecution and the defense agreed, but giving anyone access to the evidence outside of forensic testing could compromise a future prosecution if there ever were one.
Last year, all three men in the case, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin were released when they made a deal with prosecutors where they maintained their evidence but plead guilty.
Pam Hicks has publicly said she no longer thinks the WM3 are guilty and was glad they were freed.