WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (KTHV) - Twenty years after the jarring deaths of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore in West Memphis, one of their moms is fighting a legal battle to find the person or people responsible for her son's death.
"It's not about movies. It's not about Damien Echols' book and this one's book, that one's book to me," Pam Hicks said. "It's about the babies."
The year-long legal fight has taken a toll on Hicks, whose son Stevie was one of the eight-year-olds found hog-tied, beaten, and murdered on May 5, 1993.
She and John Mark Byers, Christopher's dad, hoped the justice system would allow them to see evidence linked to their sons' murders under the Freedom of Information Act. However, in October 2012, Judge Victor Hill denied that request. Hicks' attorneys then obtained sworn testimonies and submitted them as evidence in early 2013. The testimonies point away from Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley, also known as the 'West Memphis Three, and instead links four other men to the murders.
"There's a party in this room that helped kill my son and it's all I can do to keep from grabbing a hold of him," Byers said during a court hearing, referring to who he suspects in the murders.
The families hoped the testimonies would pressure Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington to reopen the case, but that hasn't happened. Ellington would not agree to an on-camera interview with THV 11 but said most of the new tips and evidence he has received are not credible enough to merit a jury trial.
Law Professor Felicia Epps with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock said getting a retrial in this case will be hard to come by.
"(It would take) somebody coming forward confessing to the crime, some evidence that someone else did this crime that would be sufficient to really exonerate them," she explained. "And then there's a whole question of how they actually get back into court, because with a guilty plea, there aren't appeals from, the case is over."
For Hicks, though, the case is far from over. She hopes to start a non-profit organization to help other families who have lost children and to help keep her son's memory alive.
"He said 'Mom, I'm going to get you a Graceland.' And I looked at him and I said 'Son, you can't do that.' He said 'Why?' I said 'Elvis got his mom a Graceland, you can't get me a Graceland.' I said 'We'll call mine Promise Land,' Hicks says as she remembers one of their conversations. "My baby's in heaven, when I look to the skies, as blue as the skies are, he's looking down on me saying 'Mom you can't give up, you got to keep going.'"
A confidential tip line is still active in the case. Leads and information about who may have killed the boys can be made by calling (501) 256-1775.