Jason Baldwin in Crittenden Co. Court on March 27, 2013. (Photo: Dustin Wilson, THV 11)
MARION, Ark. (KTHV/AP) - A hearing took place in Crittenden County Wednesday morning concerning three West Memphis murders that happened 20 years ago.
The hearing was part of a legal battle over public records in the case of three Cub Scouts who went missing on March 5, 1993 and who were discovered murdered the next day.
Judge Victor Hill held the hearing concerning a lawsuit that has sought access to evidence in the slayings of 8-year-olds Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers.
Branch's mother, Pam Hicks, has argued that authorities violated Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act by not allowing them to examine evidence, including three affidavits.
Hill ruled last year that the evidence could not be released under the open records law.
On Wednesday, Judge Hill dismissed prosecuting attorney Scott Ellington and did not allow Hicks' attorney to present new evidence and testimony. That evidence is said to include information - including affidavits, court testimony, and legal documents - which incriminates four men in the murders. The witnesses associated with the alleged evidence were not called to testify, but the document was presented to the judge after Ellington was dismissed.
Before the hearing ended, Hicks' attorney asked the judge to fully read the evidence before a final decision is made in the case on Monday.
Because there is a possibility of an ongoing investigation surrounding the three affidavits the judge ruled in favor or Ellington to withhold those documents from the public for the time being.
A final decision on whether those documents will be made available to the public is expected to come Monday, after Judge Hill has examined the evidence presented during Wednesday's hearing.
Three men - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley - known as the West Memphis Three, were convicted as teenagers for the murders in 1994. Those convictions were set aside in 2011 and they were released as part of a new plea deal with prosecutors. Baldwin was in the courtroom during Wednesday's hearing.