Fogleman: Call Melissa Byers.

The Court: Mrs. Byers, I don't remember you being sworn. Will you raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the matter now pending before the court so help you God?

Byers: (assume indicating, no verbal response)

The Court: Come - come on around, please.

Fogleman: Would you state your name and address for the jury?

Byers: Melissa Byers. I live at 1400 E. Barton - West Memphis, Arkansas.

Fogleman: And who do you live there with?

Byers: I live there with my husband uh - Mark Byers and my son, Ryan Clark.

Fogleman: And how old was uh - Chris?

Byers: He was eight years old.

Fogleman: And where did he go to school?

Byers: Weaver Elementary.

Fogleman: And what room was he in?

Byers: He was in Ms. Jones' room.

Fogleman: Uh - I want to direct your attention to May the 5th of '93. Um - when did you uh - after school was out, when did you first see Chris?

Byers: Uh - it was around 5:30, I think. 5:25 - 5:30 - I was working in Memphis.

Fogleman: Ok, what time did you get off from work?

Byers: I got off work at 5:00.

Fogleman: Ok, and -

Byers: - And I got home around 5:20 - you know, between 5:00 and 5:30, I got home - sometime - you know, and I -

Fogleman: - And how did you get home?

Byers: My husband came and picked me up from work.

Fogleman: Ok. And after you got home, uh - what did your husband do?

Byers: He had uh - my son was testifying in court and uh - when he picked me up from work -

Fogleman: - Is that Ryan?

Byers: Ryan.

Fogleman: Ok.

Byers: And he told me that he couldn't find Christopher, that Christopher had not come home from school.

Davidson: Your Honor, I object to the hearsay.

The Court: Alright, re - rephrase your question.

Fogleman: Alright.

Davidson: What was your ruling, your Honor?

The Court: Well, I sustained the hearsay objection.

Price: Join the request.

The Court: Well, I sustained it, so I don't know what -

Fogleman: - Alright. Well, after uh - you were - you came back home and your husband left to go back to court -

Byers: - Um hum.

Fogleman: Uh -

Byers: - He found Christopher on 14th.

Fogleman: Ok. And did Christopher come home?

Byers: Yes, my husband brought him home.

Fogleman: Ok.

Byers: Uh - he found him um - in the middle of 14th, laying flat on his stomach on a skateboard going down the middle of the street.

Fogleman: Ok. And uh - Chris get in trouble when he got home?

Byers: Yes he did, uh -

Fogleman: - Did he get spanked?

Byers: Yes he did, uh -

Fogleman: - Ok.

Byers: He got a good talking to and then uh - about three swats with a belt 'cause he could have been run over.

Fogleman: Alright. And then uh - did your husband leave again?

Byers: My husband left to go back to court to sit with my son, and Christopher was given a paper sack to go out under the carport and pick up paper and stuff. You know, as part of his punishment.

Fogleman: Ok. Now, did you uh - later realize that he wasn't there?

Byers: I peeked - I was talking on the phone and I peeked out the window and it seems like it was just a little bit before 6:00 and he was still under the carport.

Fogleman: Ok.

Byers: And I - like 10 or 15 minutes, I don't really know - it was a little bit before 6:00.

Fogleman: Was that the last time you saw him?

Byers: That's the last time I saw my son alive.

Fogleman: Ok. I'm going to show you what I have marked for identification purposes as state's exhibit 1 and ask if you can identify that.

Byers: (crying) Yes sir, that's my baby.

Fogleman: Your Honor, we would offer state's exhibit 1.

Price: No objection, your Honor.

The Court: Alright, it may be recieved without objection. You may exhibit.

Fogleman: Now Melissa, if you could -

Byers: (still crying) - Yes sir.

Fogleman: Would you step down and mark on this area map the location of your home?

Byers: Ok. My house is right here. It's on the corner of -

Fogleman: - Highlight that address, too.

Byers: Ok.

Fogleman: Ok. Now, if you could step back and use this pointer and point to where that is so the jury can see. Kind of stand to the side - over this way.

Byers: That's my house. This is 14th and this is E. Barton. And my house sits right here on the corner, right across from Mr. and Mrs. Moore.

Fogleman: Is that on the northeast corner? East being toward Memphis?

Byers: Yes sir, I would think so.

Fogleman: Ok.

Byers: (laughs)

Fogleman: Alright, you can retake the stand. Alright, after uh - your husband and Ryan returned, what did ya'll do?

Byers: We were gonna go eat uh - supper, at Shoney's and uh - uh - Mark said - and Ryan, or I don't know - "Where's Chris?" - you know, and I said - and I told Ryan, I said "Well, I think he's upstairs." 'Cause he was like, in and out - in and out.

Fogleman: Um hum.

Byers: I wasn't paying close attention - ya know, and Ryan went upstairs and he wasn't upstairs. So, I told Ryan - I said, "Well, go next door to see" - you know, "if he's gone next door to play with the little kids that live behind us." - One house behind us going down 14th.

Fogleman: Um hum.

Byers: And he wasn't over there. And uh - we couldn't see him - you know, like in the general area - just like around the area. He wasn't suppose to leave the yard.

Fogleman: Uh huh.

Byers: He was told not to leave the yard 'cause we were going to go eat supper as soon as Ryan got out of court. And uh - we got in the car and started looking -

Fogleman: - Ok.

Byers: - And driving up and down -

Fogleman: - Alright.

Byers: - The street. We thought -

Fogleman: - Who got in the car?

Byers: Me, my husband, and my son.

Fogleman: How long -

Byers: - Alright.

Fogleman: - How long did ya'll look til you reported it to the police?

Byers: Christopher had told us that Steve lived - we were trying to find Steve's house 'cause I knew he played with Steve - that Steve lived around by Joe Garner, which is like Holiday Drive - over back behind my house.

Fogleman: You found out that wasn't where he lived?

Byers: That's not the truth, he lived down 14th.

Fogleman: Ok.

Byers: Um - but we were looking around in - driving around in that area and driving up and down 14th because I just knew he'd be - you know, just right there in the neighborhood. And we couldn't find him. So, we drove down toward uh - Ingram Blvd. to check to see if maybe he'd gone down to Flash Market.

Fogleman: Um hum.

Byers: You know, maybe he'd walked down there. And he wasn't - and he wasn't there. And then we went uh - we turned and went up toward Broadway because there's some churches that are on Ingram there that have some playground equipment - you know, we thought - well, maybe - you know, he's wandered off and he's playing on the playground equipment. (coughs) Excuse me. And we saw a police officer um - at like - I think it was at the Dollar General Store - he was on the phone, and we stopped and talked to him and asked him what to do.

Fogleman: Um hum.

Byers: And that was - you know, between 7 and 7:30. I don't know - you know, specific - I can't pinpoint a specific time.

Fogleman: Sure. Alright, after talking to him did you uh - later return home and actually call the police department?

Byers: Yes sir, he told us to - he said, "Well, wait a little bit" - you know, like most of 'em will come home by dark. You know, he said "Most of the time, dark will bring 'em home." He said, "So, wait a little bit and then file - you know, call the West Memphis police department and file a missing child report."

Fogleman: Ok. And did you do that?

Byers: Yes sir, we did.

Fogleman: Alright, and do you remem - do you recall what officer came over?

Byers: Uh - Officer Meeks.

Fogleman: While you were reporting Christopher missing, did somebody else come over?

Byers: Mrs. Moore.

Fogleman: Mrs. Moore?

Byers: Yes.

Fogleman: Ok. You talking about Dana?

Byers: Um hum, Dana. And she said, "They're together". That - she said that Michael, Stevie, and Christopher are together.

Fogleman: Alright.

Byers: And she told us that she had seen 'em - you know, around 6:00 - down at the end of the street.

Fogleman: Ok. Now, after reporting uh - Chris missing, what efforts did ya'll make to find him? What additional efforts?

Byers: Well, after the - we reported it to the police officer, we got back in the car and we went down um - Ryan was running up and down the - my husband knocked on a few doors, Ryan knocked on some doors and somebody had said something about "Well - you know, they may be in Robin Hood". I think some kid in the neighborhood had told Ryan and Ryan came and told my husband. I'm not sure. But we went down toward Robin Hood and we went into the wooded area. I didn't go very far in. We didn't have a flashlight and it was getting dark and I couldn't see - I'm uh - near sided and I don't uh - at dark I can't see.

Fogleman: Um hum.

Byers: Um - my husband and uh - Ryan went in the woods looking and we were hollering. I was hollering for him - standing there and hollering "Christopher".

Fogleman: Were there other people out searching, too?

Byers: Uh - yeah, it seems like it - that night was just such a blurr. Um - yes, Britt Smith was searching with my son. I know Richie Masters was searching. Uh - Patsy Smith was searching. Um - you know, friends of ours in the neighborhood.

Fogleman: Um hum.

Byers: Um - I know the Hobbs were searching. You know, we'd stop by each others - you know, she - they stopped by the house. You know, there was - we was just searching.

Fogleman: Ok.

Byers: All of the parents were out searching.

Fogleman: Ok. I don't have any further question, your Honor.

(next audio begins here)

Davidson: - Could Mrs. Byers. Now um - you said that that afternoon you got home around uh - 5:20, is that correct?

Byers: Around that, I'm not sure.

Davidson: And who was there at your household when you arrived home that afternoon?

Byers: Noone.

Davidson: You were the only person home?

Byers: My husband and - my husband and me.

Davidson: Oh, your husband was there also?

Byers: Yes sir, he picked me up from work.

Davidson: Ok. And was your son, Ryan, there at that time?

Byers: No sir.

Davidson: Ok. And um - when after that was it that your son uh - Chris uh - came back to the house?

Byers: When Mark dropped me off at the house, he said "I've got to go back to court" - I've got a child sitting at court by himself because - you know, we didn't have but one vehicle at that time. So, my husband left to go back to court to sit and be with Ryan.

Davidson: Is that the time that Chris was put out to uh - do his chores under the carport?

Byers: When my husband left the house, that's when he found Christopher. He - you know, I live on the corner of 14th and Barton and my husband just drove out of the driveway to drive down 14th to hit Broadway to go back to court and he found Christopher on his skateboard in the middle of the street - on 14th.

Davidson: And to your knowledge, was Chris then sent home to uh -

Byers: - No, my husband brought Christopher home.

Davidson: Ok, and -

Byers: - Yeah, he brought Christopher home.

Davidson: And was he, at that time, to um - uh - to do the chores uh - there at the house, is that correct?

Byers: Yes sir.

Davidson: And uh - I take it he did not do that, is that correct?

Byers: He had left the sack that he had picked a few little things up. It was still out under the carport. I brought it in the house.

Davidson: Ok, so -

Byers: - When we started searching for him.

Davidson: When your husband returned home, is that when Chris recieved the spanking?

Byers: Yes.

Davidson: And were you present when this happened?

Byers: Yes, I was.

Davidson: And uh - with a belt, is that correct?

Byers: Yes sir.

Davidson: And - now when you went out uh - uh -later looking uh - for your son - you all were going to Shoney's, is that correct?

Byers: We had - we never went to Shoney's.

Davidson: You were trying to find him in order to go to Shoney's?

Byers: Yes sir.

Davidson: Ok. Uh - do you remember what your husband was wearing at the time?

Byers: Shorts.

Davidson: Shorts. What kind of shoes?

Byers: Just like khaki shorts and a t-shirt and some flip flop things, just like sandles.

Davidson: What kind of shoes, do you recall?

Byers: Flip flops.

Davidson: Ok.

(tape flipped)

Davidson: - Fact, when you said that you all were looking uh - and looking in the woods for the child?

Byers: Um hum.

Davidson: Um - did you ever go across the pipe?

Byers: No sir.

Davidson: So the - um - so the jury understands, is there a canal that runs through there and a pipe that crosses that canal?

Byers: Sir, I've never been in Robin - I've never been in the woods.

Davidson: Ok.

Byers: So, I'm not sure what's out there.

Davidson: Ok.

Byers: And I don't wanna go out there now.

Davidson: I understand. Um - to your knowledge, did anyone that was with you - did you see them go across the pipe?

Byers: No. We were on the - not in the Mayfair apartment side. There's like two entrances to RobinHood Hills. The whole area is what the kids call that. There's one that's like at the end of 14th and there's one that's down at Mayfair apartments. It's like, right by Mayfair apartments.

Davidson: Now -

Byers: - That's where the pipe is.

Davidson: Ok. But as far as you know, you didn't go across that pipe and -

Byers: No sir.

Davidson: - And nobody that you were with?

Byers: No sir.

Davidson: Ok. Now -

Byers: I don't - you know, as far as I know.

Davidson: You said at uh - around between 8 or 8:30 that Officer Meeks came over and you made an official report, is that correct?

Byers: Officer Meeks was at my house before 8:00.

Davidson: Before 8:00?

Byers: A little bit before 8.

Davidson: And uh - what search - were you with Officer Meeks when she made any sort of search?

Byers: No. I don't think so. I doubt - it's just a blurr. I don't remember.

Davidson: How long did she stay there at your house?

Byers: She wasn't at my house very long. She took the information down - what was - what did he have on - you know, who - you know, what's - you know, what did he have on, what's he look like, how tall is he, how much you think he weighs, uh - she asked for a picture and I gave her one of Christopher's school pictures.

Davidson: Did you talk with her anymore that evening?

Byers: Yes sir, seems like she came back by the house.

Davidson: And what time did she come back by the house?

Byers: Um - seems like it was around - she said that her shift was fixing to change. So, she came back by the house - she had been driving around the area.

Davidson: Ok.

Byers: Looking. And she came back by the house and - to tell us that she was going off duty, her shift was changing - you know, and to - you know, that there would be another officer taking over.

Davidson: That's all I have.

Fogleman: I don't have any further questions.

(blank space)

Ford: - What time you and your husband stopped searching that night?

Byers: I have no idea.

Ford: You have no idea?

Byers: I walked the floor all night, I have no idea.

Ford: But I - I can understand that, but do you know about what time you would have gone back home from been - you know, as oppose to actually been out looking somewhere?

Byers: 2- 3:00 in the morning, and that's just a guess. I have no - I couldn't say for sure.

Ford: Ok. And did you and your husband always search together?

Byers: No sir.

Ford: Not at certain times?

Byers: We - I stayed at the house some because I thought maybe he'd come home and I didn't want nobody to be at the house. And my husband went with uh - my son and his friends and then some by himself, some with - I'm telling - we were just - there was a group of parents just out milling around, searching.

Ford: Did you or your husband or someone that you know ever go over to the Blue Beacon truck wash and enter the woods from that direction?

Byers: My husband and my son, Ryan, went around the Blue Beacon and Mark walked - said that he walked the - he was telling me about it because - you know, he would come home and tell me, "I've looked here" - you know, we was checking in with each other and he said "I called on the edge and Ryan" - there's a little pond or something back there and he said "Ryan drove around the pond and blew the horn on the car to try to" - you know, like to try to - you know, blow the horn on the car in case - you know, somebody - you know, they would hear it and - you know, come on. And he hollered out that way, back - you know, in that area.

Ford: But as far as him physically going in there -

Byers: - No, I'm - he didn't go into that area.

Ford: Ok. And do you know what time you started again the next morning when it was daylight and you started searching again?

Byers: I saw the sun come up, but I couldn't tell you exactly what time I left the house.

Ford: But it was after the sun came up that you left and went looking?

Byers: Yes sir.

Ford: Thank you.

The Court: Ok, you may stand down. Call your next witness.

Fogleman: Call Debra O'Tinger.