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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 doesnt meet with your satisfaction, thats unfortunate.
In my rental car, passing through small towns that look like theyve 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 fools hand? That was off the 1975 Desire album, and Carters ordeal wasnt 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.