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Echols appeals denial to DNA test evidence in West Memphis Three case

A lawyer is appealing a judge's ruling that denied new DNA testing in the West Memphis Three's long battle to prove their innocence.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A lawyer for Damien Echols is appealing a judge's ruling that denied new DNA testing in the murder of three children in 1993.

In June, Judge Tonya Alexander ruled that it wasn't within the West Memphis Three's "rights," denying a habeas petition because she said it's only available for people currently in state custody.

Lawyers have been battling to get newly discovered evidence tested, which they hope could exonerate Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley.

"This conclusion is based on the flawed assumption that the only consequence that matters from a conviction is its sentence," Echols' lawyer Patrick Benca said in a release. "Hundreds of wrongfully convicted have sought relief after they were paroled and were 'free.'"

Benca called Alexander's ruling "an erroneous exercise in statutory interpretation."

"We are extremely disappointed in the Judge's decision which was based upon a narrow interpretation of the law and one that failed to allow justice to be served," Echols said. "All I asked for the right to seek to identify the DNA of the real killer(s). We are appealing that decision and are confident that the Arkansas Supreme Court will see it differently. The sad fact is that those responsible for the murders of three children in 1993 have breathed a sigh of relief now that the state of Arkansas is once again in their corner."

Under Arkansas law, a person that was convicted of a crime can request DNA testing "or other tests which may become available through advances in technology" to prove if a person is innocent.

The appeal will go to the Arkansas Supreme Court, but a date has not been set for the court to look at the case.

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