Attorneys representing Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin wrote in separate emails today that DNA testing in their clients’ cases is essentially complete. They said they are now arranging to discuss the DNA findings and other “scientific evidence” with Arkansas officials, in preparation for future court filings.
In response to a question about the status of DNA testing and future court actions, Dennis P. Riordan, who represents Echols, wrote:
The DNA testing is largely completed. We are scheduling a meeting soon with prosecutor [Brent] Davis to discuss the results in advance of filing a court action concerning it. Suffice it to say that while the results are technical and subject to more than one interpretation, I consider them highly significant and even more so when taken in conjunction with other new scientific evidence to be presented in the coming months to Mr. Davis and the courts.
John Philipsborn, one of the attorneys representing Jason Baldwin, wrote:
All parties received the latest DNA information in the latter part of January. There is still some more DNA data review being undertaken. There is also a fair amount of work being done in other areas of the scientific evidence arena unrelated to DNA. Speaking only for Jason’s case, Blake Hendrix [Baldwin’s other attorney] and I do not intend on filing any amended Rule 37 petitions until the litigation of the scientific evidence issues is completed.
In Arkansas, Rule 37 petitions are claims that counsel at the original trial provided ineffective assistance. Philipsborn continued:
As you know, Arkansas post-conviction litigation statutes allow some degree of litigation of innocence claims that are based on ‘new’ scientific evidence. We expect further filings in the latter area after all parties have met, and have communicated with the court, on pending issues that include fiber, fingerprint, and other crime scene related analysis [sic]. We are in the process of setting up the meetings. The Baldwin team believes that there are some important issues, perhaps more important than the DNA results, that require further evidence analysis.