Vicki Hutcheson began backtracking from her testimony within months after the trials’ conclusion.
Her accounts have changed over time.
Hutcheson made her first conflicting statement five months after the trials, when she still faced possible charges of perjury.
At that time, she told an attorney and a private investigator that, while she felt she’d gone to an “esbat,” or witches’ meeting, she had been drunk that night and could not recall whether Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley had gone with her.
By the late 1990s, realizing that the statute of limitations on perjury might have expired, Hutcheson answered an interviewer’s question on a web site concerned with the case, wm3.org.
When asked about “her story” to police, Hutcheson replied: “Well, I’m really concerned about legal issues right now with it. But basically, I said what the West Memphis police wanted me to say. And that was that I went to the meeting. The esbat meeting. It was all their stories.”
She added, “I just want to tell Jessie and Jason and Damien that I’m sorry.”
When asked for this article why anyone should believe her now, Hutcheson replied: “If they knew me now, they’d know that God is so important in my life, there is no way I could lie again. Or steal. Or do a lot of the things I used to do.
“For the first time since this all went down, I have a feeling of comfort. I feel better. What I did was wrong, and I hate that I ever did it. And I think that, if I had to do it over again, I would let them send me to prison, like they were saying. But back then, I was too scared.”
Today, Hutcheson lives with friends in Northwest Arkansas, caring for their daughter who has cerebral palsy.
But she also has continuing problems with the law. She was jailed for in September in Benton County and her probation revoked after a contempt of court citation. She was issued a ticket for a misdemeanor charge of theft by receiving and ticketed by the West Fork police for driving without a license. Hutcheson believes she is being harassed for speaking up about the West Memphis case. Coincidence or not, she was arrested 48 hours after the West Memphis police learned this article was being prepared.
Meanwhile, the three men who were convicted partly on Hutcheson’s testimony continue to press their appeals.
Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin both have claimed ineffective assistance of counsel and have sought the retesting of DNA in the case. Results on that retesting are expected this fall.
Lawyers for Damien Echols are also awaiting results of those tests. At the same time, however, they are preparing an appeal for Echols in federal court, since the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that he has exhausted most of his state appeals.
Two people were killed with two trains collided near Hwy. 67 early this morning, and State Police are evacuating residents of the southern end of the city while the trains burn. U.S. 67 south of Hoxie and U.S. 63 are closed. The trains were carrying hazardous chemicals.
Give Arkansas a Raise Now, the group seeking to qualify a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017, turned in an additional 69,070 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office today.
American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."
Ceramicist Barbara Satterfield, one of the Arkansas Times' "Visionaries" in 2013, has announced the creation of a touring, interactive sculpture exhibit that will be installed in public places in Helena, Heber Springs, Dardanelle and Warren before the final exhibition at the Cox Creative Center.