MEMPHIS, Tenn. - One day after the Arkansas State Supreme Court ordered a new hearing for the West Memphis Three, Damien's Echols mother and sister reached out, asking the public to keep an open mind.
Echols is on death row for the deaths of three 8 year old cub scouts in 1993.
Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly are serving life sentences for the murders.
Springs, summers, falls and winters have silently passed into years.
Over, around and through the dilapidated shells that was once the Mayfair Apartments to the dead end of McCauley Road in West Memphis, Arkansas.
On Friday, the family and friends of convicted West Memphis murderer Damien Echols returned to the desolate location and for the first time in 17 years came with hope in their hearts instead of despair.
“Next to the birth of my children and my grandchildren, I guess it was the most exciting day of my life,” said Pam Metcalf.
Metcalf's elation is in sharp contrast to the devastating grief she endured when her son was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 murders of three eight year old boys in the infamous West Memphis Three case.
But, with the Arkansas Supreme Court ordering the Crittenden County Circuit Court to hold a new hearing on whether newly analyzed DNA evidence and other testimony could exonerate Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley for the crime, Metcalf and Echol's sister Michelle, felt the time was right to voice their pent-up anger over how West Memphis Police originally handled the case.
“I was always raised to believe if the police arrested somebody, they were automatically guilty. And then when it starts happening to you and you see what's going on, you realize that's not true,” said Metcalf.
“Anybody in the police department that had anything to do with this 17 years ago, I hope they can't sleep at night,” said Michelle Hogue, Damien’s sister.
“I suppose there'll always be hard feelings there. But, I hope and pray that some of them open their eyes and realize and know what was wrong and be big enough to admit what happened was wrong,” said Metcalf.
Yet, the deep bitterness Metcalf and her daughter may feel has been swept up in the euphoria of Echols one day returning to their arms. They both understand the granting of an evidentiary hearing which could pave the way for new trails for all of the convicted is a major step.
But, now after years of seasons of hopelessness come and gone, the seeds of hope for Echol's eventual release may be on the way to bearing fruit.
“I want him to be able to come out feel the grass on his bare feet. Walk through the snow. Let the rain hit him. All this stuff he's missed for all these years,” said Metcalf.
“The very last words that Damien spoke to me the night that they arrested him was when he looked at me and said, ‘don't worry I'll be home’ and we never thought it would take 17 or 18 years,” said Hogue.
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