The trial judge in the case of three men accused as teenagers of killing three West Memphis second graders said in an appeal hearing Tuesday almost 15 years after the convictions that he is "ready to get it over with."
Circuit Judge David Burnett began the brief hearing before five lawyers for Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley. Burnett said he would set aside three weeks to hear the appeal, most likely in September. Each defendant would have one week.
Burnett gave defense lawyers 45 days to file their pleadings and set an August 20 hearing for lawyers to give him a status report.
None of the convicted men were at the hearing. They are in prison for the 1993 murders of Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers. Echols was the only one of the three sentenced to death.
Lurid details and accounts of Satanism filled the original trials. Police found the bodies of the 8-year-old boys a day after they disappeared from their neighborhood May 5, 1993. Their hands were bound to their legs by shoelaces, and the boys showed signs of suffering severe beatings before being left in a drainage ditch.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)