Hearing set in West Memphis Three lawsuit


LITTLE ROCK — A judge has set a hearing in a lawsuit filed by the mother of one of the 8-year-old murder victims in the West Memphis Three case.

Pam Hicks of Blytheville is suing for access to evidence authorities gathered in the death of her son, Stevie Branch.

Circuit Judge Victor Hill will consider Hicks’ request on Oct. 24 in Crittenden County Circuit Court, the Jonesboro Sun reported Wednesday.

Branch and fellow second-graders Chris Byers and Michael Moore disappeared in May 1993 while riding bicycles in their tree-lined neighborhood. Their bound bodies were found later in a watery ditch.

Three West Memphis teenagers were convicted in the deaths. Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison. Damien Echols was sentenced to death.

The three remained in prison for 18 years until their release in August 2011 under a deal with prosecutors that allowed them to plead guilty yet maintain their innocence.

Pam Hicks filed suit in June, claiming in the suit the city of West Memphis denied her request to view evidence in the case in violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

The lawsuit, filed in Crittenden County Circuit Court, names as defendants the city, the West Memphis Police Department, the mayor and police chief.

The defendants claimed an FOI exemption under Arkansas Code 12-12-104, which requires law enforcement agencies to preserve in a continuous chain of command any physical evidence of a sex offense or violent crime.

West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes contended Hicks’ request was not to see individual items but all evidence, and that the FOI law covers records, not physical evidence.