Defense #E-6 is a folding, lock blade Kershaw knife that belonged to me. (TR 2969) I wouldn't have any knowledge if Chris ever played with it or not. It is Possible that Chris could have gotten it and played with it. I first received the knife for Christmas 3 years ago. For a few weeks it was in the living room on a little end table by my recliner and then it was put in my bedroom on a dresser. I never used that knife while deer hunting.
When the State objected to leading, the Court said avoid leading.
On January 26 in Corning, Arkansas, Gitchell of the West Memphis Police Department asked me about that knife. (TR 2970) Prior to doing that, he read a rights form to me. He asked me what type of knives I had.
The State objected to leading. If he wants to ask him questions and impeach him with statements that are inconsistent, we certainly have no objection to that.
The Court sustained the objection.
On January 26, 1994, I had a Case double edge knife that was given to me by my brother when I was about 12 or 13. Then just kitchen knives that are in the house. I used that knife before to trim my toenails with. (TR 2971) I had attempted to trim on some venison around Thanksgiving, 1993. I never took that knife hunting.
Q. Do you recall being asked on January 26 by Gitchell, (READING) Had you ever taken that knife hunting or used it recently just prior to giving it to, what did you say his name was? Do you remember being asked that question by Gitchell?
I don't remember all the questions he asked me. I do not remember that question. He asked me a lot of questions.
Q. Do you remember giving the answer, (READING) I think, Cook no, that knife had not been used at all. It had just been kept up, put in my dresser and I didn't use it and the reason why was because of the serrated edges.
I don't recall giving Gitchell that answer. I'm sure his question wouldn't have been asked like your question was. (TR 2972)
MR. PRICE: Please read the question and read your answer.
Now that I have had a chance to refresh my recollection by looking at the question and the answer, I recall giving that answer to Gitchell on January 26. That transcription accurately reflects my answer.
I do not have any independent recollection that I may have answered that question differently. I don't remember if Gitchell ever asked me did I ever hunt with it or did I ever use it for any other purpose like you asked me. (TR 2973) I do not know if that knife has ever been out in the woods. I mean to specifically say I took it hunting or something like that, not that I know of.
I recall telling Gitchell on January 26, (READING) But, no, it had not been out in the woods or anything. Do you recall giving that answer? I was not aware if any member of my family ever injured themselves on that knife. Do you recall being asked a question, (READING) Do You know if any member of your family has ever injured themselves or cut themselves on that knife and I answered which knife and Gitchell responded, Oh, this Kershaw knife here and you said no, sir.
The State objected. I don't understand what he's doing.
He answered the question. That wasn't an inconsistent response.
MR. PRICE: "Not that I am aware of," and (TR 2974) "No, sir," are 2 different responses. I'm entitled to ask the witness that.
The Court said some of his answers here today and on that occasion are inconsistent.
As far as I knew, my sons did not play with that Kershaw knife, but they could have got it and played with it and me not known it. I recall being asked (READING) Did any of your sons ever play with the knife? Christopher never played with the knife that I knew about or saw. One time Ryan's grandfather bought him a pocket knife in a flea market.
Q. Do you remember Gitchell asking you again that, (READING) Did Ryan -- actually it is not a question. Do you remember Gitchell asking, (READING) Oh, oh, I follow you he, Ryan, did
that knife. When I was trying to use the knife in cutting some venison to make beef jerky with it, I cut my thumb with it. I don't remember the exact date. It was during the Thanksgiving holidays. (TR 2977)
On January 26, 1994, I told Gitchell that I cut my thumb with that particular knife. Yes, sir, it seems like during the course of the day I did tell him that. I don't remember if that was during the taped conversation or after.
Q Do you recall Gitchell asking --
MR. FOGLEMAN: -- I objected once and was sustained as to this procedure. I'm objecting again to the leading. I have no objection to the entire interview going before the jury. I don't have any objection to him asking questions of the witness.
The Court sustained.
Gitchell said, (READING) on page 7, "Okay, let me explain a problem we have."
Before looking at the paper, I need to ask you do you recall being asked the question, let me explain a problem we have? (TR 2978)
A You're saying Gitchell's question there. I don't understand what you're asking me.
MR. FOGLEMAN: I object to this procedure. If he wants to ask Mr. Byers any question he wants to about the knife and Mr. Byers says something inconsistent with his statement, he can ask him all day about the statement.
The Court sustained.
MR. FOGLEMAN: I object to him using this to ask what questions were asked, what answers
MR- PRICE: I'm entitled to ask him if he recalls.
The Court said you are entitled to ask him anything you choose to and if you find that is inconsistent, then you can challenge him with the statement, but I'm not going to allow you just to read or paraphrase from the statement and ask him, did you say this.
MR. PRICE: I'm reading the exact quote.
The Court said that's not the way to cross examine on a statement. Ask him a question and if you think the statement reflects an inconsistency, then you can point it out after you give him an opportunity to refresh his memory. (TR 2979)
MR. PRICE: I'm trying to do that.
BY MR. PRICE:
Did Gitchell tell you, (READING) "Let me explain a problem we have and you need to answer this for me. We have found blood on this knife." Did Gitchell ask you that question?
MR. FOGLEMAN: This is what I have objected to. Mr. Price knows how to ask questions and it is irrelevant. He can ask Byers anything he likes, and we object to this line of questioning.
The Court sustained.
BY MR. PRICE:
Q To your knowledge, did they find blood on the knife?
A What's been brought out in court, they said there was. I don't remember if on January 26 Gitchell told me there was blood on the knife.
Q I'd like to refresh your recollection on page 7.
Q Now that you have had a chance to refresh your recollection, did Gitchell tell you, we have found blood on this knife? (TR 2980)
A Yes, sir. I don't remember if Gitchell told me that the blood on the knife was Chris' blood. It might be in here that he said that. I know the answers after that question that Gitchell asked me.
Q I'm trying to ask you the question first if you remember the question.
MR. FOGLEMAN: What relevance is it of what questions were asked? What is important is what the man knows and if he gives an inconsistent response, tell all about it.
The Court sustained the objection.
MR. PRICE: I'm entitled to ask him about the questions that Gitchell asked him.
The Court said the form of the question asked by the interrogator is not really relevant. His responses and his knowledge of those circumstances are. If there is any answer he gave to a question that is inconsistent with the inquiry
here today, then you're going to be permitted to ask the question and answer.
MR- PRICE: Earlier when I was attempting to question Gitchell the Court ruled that I could ask Mr. Byers the questions that Gitchell asked and the answers he gave, and that's what I'm trying to do. (TR 2981)
The Court said I don't recall making any such ruling, but the fact is you may impeach a witness by a prior inconsistent statement. You are just attempting to read the statement or paraphrase parts from the statement.
MR. PRICE: I'm not paraphrasing. I'm asking direct questions and trying to get his direct answers.
The Court ask him about the circumstances. If he denies it, then you can read every word of that statement that is contrary to what his answers are.
BY MR. PRICE:
Did you tell Gitchell that you had no idea how Chris, blood could be an that knife?
A Yes, sir, I would not have any idea. If his blood was on the knife, I would not know how it got on there.
Q Did you have any idea how human blood was on that knife?
A Yes, I would have an idea. I cut my thumb.
MR. PRICE: In order to impeach the witness by him making the statement that held cut his thumb and that is how blood got on there, I'm now entitled to ask him the questions that Gitchell asked concerning this specific topic. (TR 2982)
BY MR. PRICE:
Gitchell asked mr [sic] on page 7 (READING) The problem is we've sent this knife off. We had it examined, and it has the blood type of Chris on it.
There is several questions he asked and several answers I gave. The answer (READING) Gary, I don't have any idea how it could be on there. Then Gitchell asked (READING) That's our problem.
Then I answered again, (READING) I have no idea how it's on there. Then Gitchell asked again (READING) Why would this knife have blood on it? And you said (READING) I have no idea, Gary.
When he was referring to why would this knife have any blood on it, I was under the assumption that he was talking about Chris's blood on it which I said I didn't have any idea. (TR 2983) He didn' t ask me was there any other way any other type of blood or red substance could have been on there because just a paragraph or two up before that I told him where I was trying to cut the venison with it.
On the top of page 8 I recall being asked the question (READING) I have no idea, no idea how it could have any human blood on it.
I recall stating (READING) I don't even remember nicking myself with it, cutting the deer meat or anything.
At the time when he was questioning me, I might not ever remember. We were getting ready to go into a trial.
I might not have remembered it at that time when he was questioning me cutting or not cutting myself on the venison, but I could have remembered it later on in the day and talked to him about it. (TR 2984)
After I said that I cut myself on the deer meat, I recall Gitchell telling you (READING) We had it checked and it is not animal's blood. It is what we call a higher ape, in other words of the ape/human family or category. I recall him making that statement.
At that time I did not tell him I had no idea when Chris could have ever touched it. I don't have any idea if he ever played with it, or he could have, but I didn't have any knowledge of it. I searched for the boys on the night that the boys were missing. When I got home from the courtroom in West Memphis, I went to search for Chris.
My son Ryan had been in court testifying as a witness in traffic court. I spent part of the time in court with him waiting for him to testify, wearing shorts. (TR 2985) The first time that I was aware that Chris was missing was when I returned home with Ryan from the court at about 6:00 p.m. I gave Chris a whipping with a belt around 5:30 p.m. I spanked him 2 or 3 times on his behind. He had on blue jeans.
After I got home with my son Ryan, we had planned an going to eat supper and as I got into the house, my wife was there. I asked her where Chris was. She thought he was playing under the carport and picking up the paper and things
like that under the carport, which we hollered around for him outside and there wasn't any answer. (TR 2986) We hollered upstairs to see if he was in his room, and there wasn't any answer. So I would say we started looking for him shortly after getting home from court with Ryan between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m.
First of all, we hollered over the fence to see if he was playing with the neighbor's children. Then we stood in the yard and hollered his name, and we didn't get a response. Then Ryan, my wife, and myself got in our car and started riding around the neighborhood to some of his friends, houses to see if he might be there.
I talked to police officers a couple of occasions. The first police officer I spoke to would have been before 7:00 p.m. at the Flash Market on Ingram. We drove up Ingram towards Broadway. The Ingram Baptist Church has some playground equipment. (TR 2987) We thought he might be playing on the playground equipment. We saw a police officer at the Dollar General Store around 7:30 p.m. and we asked him what to do, since we couldn't find our son.
At that point we did not get out of our vehicle and start looking on foot for Christopher. I called both the sheriff's department or the police department around 8:00 P.M. I made a formal missing person's report. officer Regina Meek came out to the house to talk with me. Her police report has 8:10 p.m. written on it, but it was a few minutes after that before
she left. She arrived a few minutes before 8:10 p.m. (TR 2988)
As Meeks was starting to leave, Ms. Moore, our neighbor across the street, knocked on our door and talked to us. Ryan and I started walking down the street seeing if any neighbor had seen Chris around 8:30 p.m. This time Mrs. Byers stayed at the house. I had my shorts on at that time, but I did not take a flashlight. It was getting dusk, but barely enough light to see. (TR 2989) It wasn't pitch black dark, but it wasn' t daylight. I do not remember at 8:30 p.m. if the mosquitos were getting real bad.
I haven't looked at this map very close. I recall the area that we searched. We headed down Fourteenth Street towards Goodwin Circle. (TR 2990) The only part of the woods that I searched in was down on this end right where the concrete is pushed in. You could park right there and I walked into that field, and the wooded area down on this end is where I searched with Moore.
On Wednesday evening, we did not go to the area on either side of the pipe. I didn't say it was 8:30 p.m. when I searched the area with Moore. We searched that area with Moore a little after 9:00 p.m. because he had just taken a report from Terry Hobbs at Catfish Island. After Moore showed up, Terry Hobbs pulled up. It would have been after 9:00 p.m. after he took Mr. Hobbs, report. (TR 2991)
Meek came to the house and she was there around 8:10-8:20 P. M. Then I left about 8:30 p.m. and went walking. I returned to the house again before going out with Moore. It seemed like my son Ryan stayed out looking. When we left our house around 8:30 p.m., Ryan and I headed down the street. Mrs. Moore told us she had seen a skateboard about halfway down the street.
When I left at 8:30 p.m. I went to the area of the bayou. I told Sudbury on May 19. This is bottom of page 3, top of page 4. 1 talked about leaving about 8:30 p.m. At the time I left about 8:30 p.m., it was getting dark. (TR 2992)
Q Do you recall -- read the top line on page 4 where it says, It is now probably 8:30 P.M.
A It had got dark. At the time I left at 8:30 and it had already gotten dark, I did not take a flashlight with me. I went back to the house later to look for a flashlight, but I don't remember exactly what time it was because Ryan and I worked our way down the street, worked our way down Fourteenth looking for our son, Ryan and I.
We had been told that they were seen down by where the concrete is pushed in in the ditch.
When you left at 8:30, were you looking in the area of the bayou?
A We went down and looked down on this end. I don't know what you would consider the area of the bayou. The bayou is 10 miles long.
Q You're saying you were looking in the area of the bayou at 8:30? (TR 2993)
A I gave an answer on May 19 to Sudbury I left at 8:30 p.m. It had got dark. We were looking in that area of the bayou.
Q Do you recall being -- backing up -- the whole answer would be on the bottom of page 3. (READING)
"The kids and I will get to that
later on Thursday. I'll get to that
in a minute. Oh, we started looking and
looked in that area. It is now probably
8:30. It had got dark and Terry said
he was going to spread out down, you know,
towards where they were found. I don't
know how far down that way he went but he
was going to go look that way. My son Ryan
and I and Richie Masters -- somehow Richie
Masters showed up to help. My son Ryan and
I and I think Brett Smith. Richie Masters
goes with Brett Smith's sister. So that's
how they were kind of together. So we're
looking in that area kind of where the
loop is, you know, there's an open field
there just kind of a circle around it out
there. We were looking in that area of
the bayou and, ah, well, I had a pair of
shorts and a pair of flip-flops so I run
back to the house and I changed clothes
and put me on some coveralls and boots
and I probably had that on for the next
2 or 3 days. (TR 2994) I went back out
there. I made a pass. I went all the way
back to the back and walked up to the
gully where it makes a real wash down.
You can see there's where the water
washes into the bayou. I didn't have a
flashlight or anything with me. I thought,
well, I'm going to go borrow a flashlight
from Robert Fountain. I knew he lived
down the street from me. I knew I could
borrow a flashlight from somebody so I
came back out. I see a police car pull
up and it was Officer Moore, I believe,
and he did say, did you find something.
I said no, but I don't have a light. Will
you help me look. He said, yeah, I will
help you look. So he got his light out
and we walked back to that trail and then
we cut back up to this side which run into
the ditch that has got that rope hanging
down from a tree."
I gave that answer. It was Probably 8:30 and it had gotten dark. When I left the house with Ryan and his other friends, I was still wearing shorts and flip-flops. (TR 2995) At no time did I have a flashlight. seems like after I came back, when I was down there with Ryan and the other people that showed up, I looked a little ways just right there as you go in. The trail goes straight back to the bayou back on this end where that road is that officer Moore was talking about.
There is a little ditch that runs in the bayou here.
That little rope that we found was over on this little ditch.
I do not recall the mosquitoes getting worse later on that night. I do not remember if on May 19, 1993, Ridge told me he might have information that I had something to do with the disappearance of the boys. (TR 2996) I remember him talking with me when I went down to the police station. They asked me when they were bringing people down there to question about it.
On page 30, (READING) what I want to say right now, what I'm going to say is that I may have information. This information suggests strongly that you have something to do with the disappearance of the boys and ultimately the murder.
When he asked me that on May 19, 1993, I got very upset and distraught and he told me he had to ask me that question to get my reaction. I probably said I don't have any idea where you would have got that information or where that would have come from. Officer Ridge indicated to me that he just
said that to me, like I said, to get my reaction. That he really didn't have that information. He was just saying that to get my response. (TR 2997)