Favorite

Complete fabrication 

A crucial witness says her testimony in the West Memphis Three case wasn't true, but a product of police pressure to get results in the death of three children.

A woman who provided crucial testimony in the trials of the "West Memphis Three" now says her testimony was a complete fabrication.

Victoria (Vicki) Hutcheson says she was told what to say by West Memphis Police Department detectives, and that if she did not testify as instructed they could take her child away from her and implicate her in the slayings.

She also says the police hid her away from defense attorneys after she testified in the first of the case's two trials, and that she knows of at least one piece of evidence destroyed by police.

Hutcheson's son Aaron, who was eight years-old and a close friend of two of the victims, is also repudiating statements he made shortly after the murders. Aaron, who's now 18, says police "tricked" him and led him to say things that were not true.

Aaron's interviews with the West Memphis police were used to help justify the police theory that the slayings were related to the occult, and to tie three teenagers to the killings.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Allen dismisses Hutcheson's account. "It appears that Vicky Hutcheson is trying to get her 15 minutes of fame." He noted that she'd testified under oath in the one trial (Jesse Misskelly's) in which she was called as a witness and the defense had a chance to cross-examine her. "I don't know anything about Vicky Hutcheson or her motives for over 11 years later coming out and lying about the events of 1993, but I can say that the case gets more bizarre everyday."

Hutcheson testified only in the first of two trials, that of Jesse Misskelley Jr.

Mara Leveritt, a Times contributor who wrote a book about the West Memphis slayings, puts Hutcheson's significance this way. Leveritt says Hutcheson's interviews with police tightened the noose around Misskelley, giving them a theory to build a case around. When he confessed, they had what they needed to arrest Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin. The prosecutor had little else in the way of solid evidence and Misskelley soon recanted his confession. Nonetheless, the confession was leaked to a Memphis newspaper, which put it on the front page, and it was mentioned by the prosecution in the trial of Echols and Baldwin.

Dan Stidham, defense attorney for Misskelley, said that while Hutcheson testified in only one trial, that testimony was critical in all three convictions. "Vicki Hutcheson's testimony was crucial to the prosecution because it was the only real corroboration that they had for Misskelley's ridiculous statement to the police. Even though she did not testify in the next trial of Echols and Baldwin just two weeks after Misskelley's trial, everyone on the jury in Jonesboro knew about Misskelley's statement and Hutcheson's testimony.

"Hutcheson's recantation of her trial testimony was not all that shocking to me in that I have always known that she was lying. The real shocking thing to me about her recantation is the level of misconduct on the part of the West Memphis police. It obviously knew no boundaries." Stidham no longer works on the case, but follows it closely. He's a district judge in Paragould.

Misskelley and Baldwin are serving life sentences. Echols was sentenced to die. All three are appealing.

On May 5, 1993, three eight-year-old boys — Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers — were savagely murdered in a wooded area near Interstate 40 in West Memphis. One of the boys was sexually mutilated.

After a month had passed with no promising leads, police turned to three local teenaged boys — Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley — and charged them with the murders. To establish a motive, the police and prosecutor said the three were devil worshippers and had killed the three younger boys as part of an occult ceremony. All three of the teenagers were convicted.

Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Tim Hackler

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • A child left unprotected

    State Rep. Justin Harris and his wife adopted a young girl through the state Department of Human Services. How did she, six months later, end up in the care of a man who sexually abused her?
    • Mar 5, 2015
  • Ruth Coker Burks, the cemetery angel

    In the darkest hour of the AIDS epidemic, Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of people whose families had abandoned them. Courage, love and the 30-year secret of one little graveyard in Hot Springs. 
    • Jan 8, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Cover Stories

  • The return of Kaleidoscope

    The LGBT Film Festival kicks off in North Little Rock.
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • Seven to watch

    At the Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival.
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • The San Antonio Four

    An interview with the subjects of 'Southwest of Salem,' a documentary film with echoes of the West Memphis Three story.
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation