By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
If he gets out, Echols plans to move as far away from Arkansas as he can get, definitely to the West Coast, where many of his friends live. “Seattle sounds nice,” he tells me. Also, his pal Eddie Vedder lives there. “I’d like to open a used-book store, but with really good used books. But it wouldn’t just be a bookstore. We’d sell oils and incense, things like that, and give classes in yoga.” He says he just wants to disappear after this is all over. He doesn’t think about death, he says, or worry about his appeals process. He leaves dealing with the lawyers to Lorri, who is his bridge to the outside world.
It was through Lorri that he granted this visit at the last minute, knowing that, as he told me in a telephone interview in 2000, most people “cannot separate me from the case.” Because he was seeing me against the advice of counsel, Lorri had asked me not to record our conversation or take notes. My account here, including the quotes, is taken from memory and from notes made afterward.
Last year, Echols’ lawyers petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court to retest some of the biological evidence for DNA using more sensitive tests than were available a decade ago. After granting them several delays, the Supreme Court finally ordered that Echols’ defense get the testing done before a deadline that will just have expired as this paper goes to print. When I pressed Joe Margulies, Echols’ top lawyer, as to why the defense was letting this valuable opportunity slip away, he hung up on me, saying coldly, “If it doesn’t meet with your satisfaction, that’s unfortunate.”
In my rental car, passing through small towns that look like they’ve been trapped in amber since Eisenhower was president, I keep thinking of that line in the Dylan song about Rubin Carter: “How can the life of such a man/Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?” That was off the 1975 Desirealbum, and Carter’s ordeal wasn’t over until a federal judge ordered him released in 1985 and prosecutors declined to retry him a third time. Echols may have a long road ahead before justice is done, if he can stay alive long enough to walk it.
“Cruel and Unusual: An Exhibition To Benefit the West Memphis Three” will be at sixspace gallery September 6 through 20.
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