The Victims The Place Time It Was The Crime The Investigation The Convicted
The Victims The Place Time it was The Investigation The Crime The Convicted
Late Evidence, Jason Baldwin

Timeline of the appearance of the evidence deemed significant by the jury in determining the guilt of Jason Baldwin.
Blue entries represent major events in the case.  
Red entries indicate when evidence was uncovered or reported, not when it was presented to the defense.

A Twilight Kill, Part Eight:  Last Minute Evidence.

    The investigation went wrong from the moment of the victims' discovery. The sensible inquiries were not performed. There were no detailed statements from the employees of the nearby all-night truck wash. For most of the parents, there was only the slimmest of notes. Terry Hobbs said he was out searching all night and yet the police did not ask him who or what he encountered. Most of the neighbors nearest the victims' homes were not interviewed. Along with the parents, they could have described suspicious persons in the area.

    Instead the detectives collected thousands of pages of rumors, stories by children and half-followed leads. As the months passed while their clients awaited trial, the lawyers of the accused were at a loss as to what sort of case the prosecution intended to make. Their confusion was justified. The case wasn't in the documents provided to them. In some instances, the evidence had yet to be found. In other cases, it was only presented at trial.

    The Echols/Baldwin jury made summary notes of their deliberations and what factors went into deciding their verdict of guilty. Baldwin's list was
    While the defense was aware that Baldwin was a friend of Echols, and how they came to the conclusion of "low self-esteem" is open to interpretation, the remainder of the list was late in arriving.


    In mid-November of 1993, over five months after the arrests, a long Rambo-style knife was found in the lake behind Baldwin's trailer. The prosecutor claimed credit for the search, citing a hunch. The knife wasn't introduced at the Misskelley trial, Misskelley had made clear the weapon used was a folding knife. With Misskelley recanting the confession and unwilling to attest to its veracity, his statement couldn't be entered into the Echols/Baldwin trial allowing the prosecutor freedom to redefine the crime. Although the Rambo knife had no trace evidence on it and nothing to associate it to Baldwin other than being in a lake near his trailer, it was considered by the jury as evidence of his guilt. It was not mentioned on Echols' list.

    Was finding such a knife unrelated to the murders near the Baldwin residence so improbable? Three knives were recovered from the area near where the children were found and none was linked to the crime. What could have been the source of the Lake Knife? One possibility was Baldwin's neighbors. Anthony Hollingsworth and James Ellison would later be registered as sex offenders, and, living two doors down from the Baldwins, was John William Childers.

    John W. Childers fled from his trailer home in North Ft. Myers, Florida after murdering his common-law wife, Laure Catherine Green, in November, 1983. Months later he appeared in Memphis and met a Barbara Hay and moved in with her in the Lakeshore area.

    America's Most Wanted ran several broadcasts featuring him and his crime. A fifth broadcast in November 1993 (shortly before the lake was searched) led to a tip from a neighbor dated November 16 stating that Childers lived "in West Memphis." The newspaper accounts say he was brought to the police station where he was questioned and fingerprinted. Before his prints could be correctly matched, he skipped town. He was eventually arrested in Jacksonville, Florida and sentenced to life in prison.

The Lake Knife
The "Lake" Knife

Fiber match

    Individual strands of fibers were collected from the crime scene that were not similar to the victims' clothing. In response to this, ninety-two items of clothing and other fabrics were seized during the execution of the search warrants. Along with the clothes of the accused, these included a throw rug, a cut out swatch of carpet, a blanket from the grandmother's bedroom, a heating pad, the parent's housecoats, and clothes from siblings.

    Five sets of fibers, one to three strands each, recovered from victims' clothes were determined to be microscopically similar to fibers from items seized from the defendants' homes. None of these came from clothing from the defendants, with the most prominent ones coming from Baldwin's mother's robe and two different types of fiber, cotton and polyester coming from Echols' young brother's size six Garanimals shirt. All of the relevant fibers were suggested to have been deposited by secondary transfer. For example, the clothes Damien wore when he supposedly committed the murders had picked up both cotton and polyester fibers from a Garanimals shirt in his home and then these fibers were transferred to several of the items of clothing of the victims during the crime.

    On December 20, 1993, six months after the accused had been jailed, the authorities decided to test whether the fibers could have been picked up at the victims' homes. A total of six items were taken from two of their households. Two sets of fibers deemed similar to clothing items from the accused were found to be also similar to a shirt from the Moore's household. These same fibers were further determined to be similar to those from a bag of clothes found at the crime scene. The size of clothes, pants with a tall 33 inch inseam, did not match any of the defendants.

    Three more strands of fibers would be deemed similar to items seized from the defendants' homes. These were found on a knife belonging to a Jason Crosby.

Fogleman:  The reason I'm asking these questions the. . . this knife, the crime lab says that knife has fibers on the that came out of Jason's house and came out of Damien's house from some clothing of Damien's. [Jason Crosby interview with prosecutor, September 2, 1993]

    The prosecution made no attempt at trial to connect Jason Crosby or his knife to the defendants or to the crime. Nevertheless, the presence of these fibers were used as an indication of guilt of the accused.

    The reports on the fibers including the controls were filed in January, one month before the trials. The spectrographic data indicating similarities was performed in February and March.

    Officially, fibers can be described as being microscopically similar and consistent from being from the same source, but not as matching one another. Baldwin's attorney, Paul Ford, attentively challenged a question a prosecution question that suggested they match.

Prosecutor Fogleman: Back on the red cotton fibers that you had originally reported matched the garment from Damien Echols' home, which as a result of further investigation you concluded that it also matched a garment from the Moore's home.  You can't say which home that came from?
Ford:  Your Honor, I object to the question because he keeps using the language 'matched.' She's testified that they're not matches, but they're microscopically similar. And I'd ask that he not indicate to the jury that they're matches when that's not her testimony. [Sakevicius testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]

    In contrast to this bit of diligence, the attorney let pass many more references to fiber matches and even used the term himself in a question. In the closing arguments, the prosecution regularly referred to the items matching.

Davis:  ... the only garment that was found in the searches of any of these places that had a fiber that matched, and you've seen those graphs how well it matches. . . [snip] But, those fibers match that garment. [Prosecution closing argument, Echols/Baldwin trial.] 

    Although ninety-two fabric items were seized during the arrests and only six items came from two households of the victims, Fogleman suggested a thorough search for exclusion had been performed.

Fogleman: You got Jason's place search, you got Damien's place searched, you got Jessie's searched, you've got the Byers house, you got fibers, and you got fibers from the Moore house. And out of all those houses, out of all the clothing in those houses, nothing. Nothing but this one shirt were those fibers matched to. Ask yourself whether that isn't significant. [Prosecution closing argument, Echols/Baldwin trial.]

    The jury agreed with the prosecution, citing fiber matches as evidence of the guilt of Baldwin and Echols. One juror, in separate notes, wrote "Fiber match - DNA."

Frequented crime scene.

    Neither Baldwin nor Echols said they had visited the crime scene. No witnesses spoke at their trial placing them there. So where does this peculiar assertion come from? Again, this was "late evidence," it came from testimony at the trial. Echols testified about walking around town. Living four and a half miles from Jason Baldwin and not having cars, he and Baldwin often made the trek on foot to visit each other.

Davis:  Had you been in the neighborhood near where Robin Hood Hills was in that residential area -- had you and Jason walked in that neighborhood on a frequent basis?
Echols:  No. [Echols testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]

    In the next day's testimony, Echols was asked,

Prosecutor Davis: It is east of 14th Street and south of the Service Road and the Interstate. In that particular neighborhood, Market Street, Goodwin, in there, did you and Jason frequently walk and roam in that area, the same neighborhood where the three victims lived?    
Echols:   I think by looking at the map I would have had to.
Davis:  How often?
Echols:   Probably in that area, maybe twice a week.

    Robin Hood Hills was west of 14th Street, with the crime scene a quarter mile away. The jury believed they had caught Echols in a lie. They also used this as evidence Baldwin had frequented the crime scene.

Michael Carson, testifying
Michael Carson, testifying at trial

    Jailhouse confession. 

    The key piece of evidence against Jason Baldwin was the 16-year-old jailhouse snitch, Michael Carson. At the time Carson first appeared to make his allegations, Baldwin had been in prison for eight months.  

    On February 1, 1994, one month prior to the trials, Carson came forward claiming to have overheard Baldwin confess during Carson's September weeklong stay in juvenile lockup. Although Carson made two contradictory statements, they were incorrectly treated as one statement at the trial, and the notes from one was not allowed to be compared to the transcript of the other.

    By the time of the trials, Michael Carson had been in and out of juvenile facilities for burglary and falsifying his identity. He had completed at least two stays in mental health facilities. He was diagnosed as having alcohol, hallucinogen and marijuana dependency and polysubstance abuse.  

    His counsellor contacted Baldwin's defense attorneys to warn them of his concerns that Carson would lie about his testimony but was not permitted to testify. It was ruled his testimony would violate the therapist/client privilege of a minor. Carson's history of drug use was also excluded as evidence.  

    The alleged confession was brief. According to Carson it came just after he had played a game of spades with two other inmates and Jason and he were gathering up the cards before lunch. "He told me how he dismembered the kids, or I don't exactly how many kids. He just said he dismembered them. He sucked the blood from the penis and scrotum and put the balls in his mouth." [Carson testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial] Carson made no statement about Echols' involvement.

    Perhaps because Carson was a last minute witness, Baldwin's attorney did little to discredit him, including performing no investigation of Carson's incarceration. As part of Baldwin's recent appeal, defense investigators have tracked down and "interviewed all available staff or detainees who were in the facility with Baldwin and Carson (a total of approximately 10 persons), none could corroborate Carson's story. ...[The former unit supervisor] has reported that she was actually told by law enforcement personnel to leave town at or near the time that she might have been called as a witness for the defense."  [Writ of Error Coram Nobis, Charles Jason Baldwin, filed May 29, 2008]  Furthermore, when [the supervisor] was asked to speak on the behalf of Baldwin during sentencing, she "was told by the sheriff that she should not be in court." [Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Motion for New Trial, Jason Baldwin, May 30, 2008, p. 68] The supervisor and staff attested to closely monitoring Baldwin. One said she would have noted if a "new person" interacted with Baldwin. [ibid, p.70] One of the other members of the alleged card game said he never played spades while incarcerated. [ibid, p.77]  

    The appeals describe Carson's history since the trial. "Carson moved out of Arkansas, and lived in California where he continued his involvement in criminal behavior according to his record in California. He also allegedly continued to work for local law enforcement agencies as an informant, and reportedly continued fabricating information until he was discarded as an informant after continuing to be arrested." [ibid, p. 84]

    The jurors made summary notes of Carson's testimony including, "nothing to gain," "extremely accurate" and "telling truth."

Charles Jason Baldwin

The Slicked Down Bank and The Pristine Meadow

    Not only did witnesses appear at the last moment, the prosecution shaped its case with claims that were not supported by any documentation. One problem the state needed to overcome was that the woods behind the Blue Beacon had to be the murder site, rather than a place where the bodies were dumped. Misskelley claimed the site was where the attacks took place. Furthermore, the accused did not have automobiles to bring the bodies to the site. The problem was, there was no visible blood in this area - even though one of the victims was determined to have bled to death.

    The prosecution contended that the site where the murders took place was a bank above where Moore was discovered and where his recovered body was placed. They claimed the area was cleaned of blood - along with leaves and twigs. The defense's response was the same as when it was often caught off-guard - disbelief.

Fogleman:  Your Honor, the - let me get this photograph - Your Honor, the first 3, which are 22, 23, and 26 are to show the condition of the bank. Uh - they show the - how it's slicked off -
Defense attorney Paul Ford: That is ridiculous.
Fogleman: - cleaned off, the bank -
Ford: That's ridiculous.  [Ridge testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]

    Detective Ridge suggested the crime scene was cleaned by hand. 

Defense attorney Robin Wadley: Scuff marks - you mean "slicked off," is that what you're saying?
Ridge: That's a term that could be used, yes sir.
Wadley: Describe the scuff marks.
Ridge: Looks as though somebody may have taken their hands and rubbed the bank. [ibid]

    No police notes were made describing this area as being particularly cleaner than others. Moreover, this site was hardly unique in having scuff marks, leaves missing and muddiness. The site where the other two bodies were found was both scuffed up and absent of leaves.

    Another component of the theory that the woods was the murder scene and not a dumping site was the geography. Bodies could not be brought from the south because of the bayou channel. The west was bordered by the Blue Beacon Truck Wash - an all night establishment and the only automobile described as passing there that night was that of Mark Byers. The northern border was the interstate. Finally, to the east, was a meadow. Although the meadow could be accessed by a vehicle bringing the driver near to the discovery site, the police were adamant that no vehicles had passed there. In describing a grid search that took place the day after the bodies were discovered, Detective Ridge emphasized the pristine nature of the meadow. 

Fogleman: Detective Ridge, I want to go back to this grid pattern search that you and the other officers did um - did you do an area besides the wooded area?
Ridge: Yes sir.
Fogleman: Alright, and where was that area located?
Ridge: Ok. This area between the field and the ditch, including part of that field and then this area between this ditch and the field, and including part of that field.
Fogleman: Alright. And what kind of field was that?
Ridge: A wheat field.
Fogleman: Alright. And uh - what was the condition of the ground at that time when y'all did that grid search?
Ridge: It was smooth, there was grass,  wheat growing in the area.
Fogleman: And uh - what if anything did you find in the part of that field that you all searched?
Ridge: We didn't find anything, it was normal, smooth.
Fogleman: Any automobile tracks, truck tracks, anything like that?
Ridge: No sir. [ibid]

    This observation became central to the prosecution's summary of the case. 

Fogleman:  Now also, they've tried to suggest that somehow this happened somewhere else. [snip, as Fogleman described the geography and limitations as to how the victims could have been brought to the discovery scene.] Or, coming from the wheat field. But officers walked that, remember they walked that field. They didn't go the whole field, but over on the edge of the woods, they did their arms length thing, where they walked from the ditch to the interstate. No tracks, no vehicle tracks. [Fogleman closing argument, Echols/Baldwin trial]
    Again no police notes supported this claim, it was brought to light at trial. The pristine meadow seems remarkable considering the area was described as having been saturated by searchers, including those using three-wheelers and all-terrain-vehicles. Furthermore, it is directly contradicted by the crime scene footage which shows a red vehicle parked in the meadow near the discovery site. 

    Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. 
"When Burnett asked each if there were any reason the sentences should not be carried out, Baldwin said, 'Because I'm innocent.'" [March 20, 1994, Memphis Commercial Appeal]

  Bridget Bishop tombstone
Salem, Massachusetts.
Bridget Bishop tombstone.
Her last words were, "I am no witch.
I am innocent. I know nothing of it."

Continued in, A Twilight Kill, part nine: Evidence against Echols

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