by Max Brantley
Pam Hobbs, mother of Steve Branch, one of three eight-year-olds killed in the 1993 West Memphis slayings that became the West Memphis 3 case, says new information unearthed in a new documentary, "West of Memphis," has persuaded her to call for the state of Arkansas to reopen the case.
Some of the information pertains to hearsay relating to remarks allegedly made by Branch's stepfather and Pam Hobbs' ex-husband, Terry Hobbs. He's steadfastly denied any involvement in the death of the children and some of his denials, as well as statements from others that contradict some of his accounts, are included in the recent HBO documentary, "Paradise Lost: Purgatory."
"West of Memphis" is yet another documentary, screened Friday at the Sundance festival, with more information in the case. It includes some of the same information about overheard statements. But a spokesman for Pam Hobbs also said the filmmakers have information about testing of knives she supplied. UPDATE: i am now informed that this is incorrect. There is no reference to such evidence in the film. Pam Hobbs is not accusing anyone else of the crimes, in any case, but thinks the weight of what has been produced is sufficient for the state to reopen the case.
Jonesboro Prosecutor Scott Ellington had said in agreeing to release of West Memphis 3 defendants for time served that their guilty pleas closed the case. But he also said he'd be willing to review anything produced by those seeking to prove their innocence. He told me earlier today, before I received Hobbs' statement, that he had not yet received the promised package of affidavits about overheard remarks.
Hobbs' statement today:
"Please allow me to begin by thanking the everyone for their loving support and for all the effort they have done to see that justice is served for my son, Steve Branch, and his two best friends, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. I would not be as strong as I seem without it.
I am content in my heart that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley did not murder my son.
I had the opportunity to meet Damien Echols and Lorri Davis in Utah at the Sundance Festivial. To me they are truly amazing wonderful people with true love that overwhelms me.
The documentary film "West of Memphis" is the best coverage of this case that I have viewed, myself. I thank director Amy Berg along with producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh for the amazing job they did with West of Memphis.
I viewed crucial new DNA evidence in the doc that I am told has been given to the State of Arkansas and I am asking as the mother of Steve Branch and as a citizen of Arkansas that the State reopen this case and let justice prevail for my son Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers."