Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The West Memphis Three

Questionable

With almost no evidence to link Jason, Damien and Jessie to the murder scene or the victims, apart from Jessie's questionable confession, police continued to interrogate any acquaintances of the three teenagers they could find. Of all the people interviewed none could testify to having seen Damien, Jason and Jessie together at any time in the past. This hole was soon filled by Jerry Driver who testified under oath that he had once seen Damien, Jason and Jessie walking together wearing long black robes and carrying staffs. During the trial this may have been convincing testimony for the jury but in light of Driver's own admission that he had often interrogated Damien for unsolved crimes in the area over the previous twelve months, its credibility is highly questionable. The fact that Driver faced embezzlement charges in 1997 and resigned from the probation office further diminishes his credibility.

Judge Burnett
Judge Burnett

To place Damien and Jason at the scene of the crime, police were able to find three witnesses. Narlene Hollingsworth and her son Anthony, a convicted sex offender, testified during Damien and Jason's trial that Narlene had been driving them to a friend's house on the night of 5 May 1993 and had seen Damien and his girlfriend Domini Teers walking near the Blue Beacon Truck Stop at around 9:30 p.m. Damien had been wearing a dark colored shirt and his clothes were dirty. Domini had been wearing a pair of black pants with white floral appliquéd patches. Narlene's daughter, Tabatha repeated her mother's story during Jessie's trial.

There had been seven people in the Hollingsworth car that night but only four had been able to testify to having seen Damien or Domini. Ricky Hollingsworth, Narlene's husband, stated that he had been unable to determine who the figures were. It was dark at the time of the sighting, which was very brief, yet the witnesses claim that they were able, not only to identify the people but determine that an already dark colored shirt was dirty. The prosecution itself questioned how accurate this sighting was when they attempted to imply that the witnesses had been mistaken in their identification of Domini. The prosecution attempted to suggest that the second person they saw was really Jason Baldwin wearing a pair of gray jeans with holes in the knees which Jason owned. Anthony, during his testimony, contradicted his mother's story by placing the sighting an hour later than the 9:30 p.m. time stated by Narlene.

Further strengthening their case, at least in the minds' of the jurors, the prosecution presented the court with three more witnesses who claimed to have heard Damien and Jason verbally admit to their guilt of the murders. The first two witnesses claimed to have overheard Damien say "I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I'm going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out." These remarks were apparently overheard at a softball game. They claim that they had overheard Damien make these comments to a group of friends. During cross-examination by defense counsel the credibility of this testimony was questioned. It was revealed that the girls had been unable to hear anything else that was said at the time, nor were they able to identify any of the people who had been with Damien at the time. It was also shown that one of the dates they had given that they had seen Damien at the games was after he had been arrested. The particular game at which the girls claim to have overheard Damien's confession was held in early May, yet they did not come forward to police until after they had seen a report of Damien's arrest on the television.

The third witness, Michael Carson, testified that Jason Baldwin had admitted to him that he had murdered the boys. Carson told the court that he had talked to Jason during a short period of time that he had attended the detention center at which Jason was being held. Carson testified that he said "Just between me and you, did you do it? I won't say a word. He said yes and he went into detail about it. It was just me and Jason [Baldwin]. He told me he dismembered the kids, or I don't know exactly how many kids. He just said he dismembered them. He sucked the blood from the penis and scrotum and put the balls in his mouth."

Judge Burnett ruled that the defense could not tell the jury that Michael Carson was a medically-diagnosed LSD addict because substance abuse was not sufficient grounds to argue the probativeness of a witness's truthfulness. He also ruled as inadmissible a communication from Danny Williams, sent to both the prosecuting and defense attorneys. Williams was a counselor at the same detention center as Jason and Michael. He admitted that he had discussed the case with Michael Carson. The reason Williams had contacted the attorneys was that he believed Carson would be perjuring himself if he testified in court that he had heard the details of the crimes from Jason Baldwin when in fact he had heard them from Williams. Burnett ruled that to allow the jury to hear this information would be a violation of Carson's right to patient-counselor confidentiality. It had never been proven that Carson and Jason had ever come into contact with each other while in the detention center.

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