1. In 1993 Ė 1994, I served as an investigator for Damien Echols and his trial counsel in the capital proceedings against him in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It was my understanding that my responsibilities included investigating and preparing for penalty phase in the event Mr. Echols was found guilty of the capital crimes with which he was charged.
2. My responsibilities in Mr. Echolsí case also included meeting with him on a weekly basis and attending some of the pre trial and trial proceedings. During Mr. Echolsí incarceration in the Monroe County Jail, we met weekly for one to three hours that afforded me an opportunity to observe Mr. Echolsí behavior and functioning over time. Monroe jail staff provided me with a small room for our meetings and allowed him to meet with without restraints or barriers. I had substantially more contact with Mr. Echols than any other member of his defense team.
3. Although my inexperience prevented me from recognizing many of the symptoms of mental illness that I observed at the time of Mr. Echolsí trial, I now understand the implications and relevance of the behaviors I observed. Since my work on Mr. Echolsí case, I have investigated numerous capital cases, including mental health related claims; attended local, state, and national training seminars on investigating and presenting mitigation and other mental health related claims, and become knowledgeable about behaviors that are characteristic of mental illness. My interactions with Mr. Echols allowed me to witness his episodic loss of contact with reality; his inability to focus on trial proceedings or understand their significance; his lack of insight into the nature of his mental illness; his unpredictable and rapid mood swings, including his profound depression; his bizarre and paranoid beliefs; and his grandiose delusions.
4. Mr. Echols had dramatic mood swings from deep sobbing to laughing hysterically and giggling without any cause for the change. The switch from despair to mania was immediate and complete; it could occur several times during one meeting. Mr. Echols cried during almost every meeting, once collapsing onto my shoulders in utter despair that was beyond the legal situation. His depression had been with him a long time and it affected everything he thought and did. Mr. Echols was so deeply sad that he felt hopeless and lost when it came to his case. He was not able to maintain an active interest in legal developments and was not able to overcome his depression to be motivated to help in his own defense. He discussed suicide repeatedly and believed that he could overcome death because he was different from people.
5. Mr. Echols also had grandiose and persecutory delusions that extended to his trial counsel. He believed he was an outsider to whom no one could relate. He believed he was an alien and discussed it with his mother from the time when he was a small child of only three or four. It was not an analogy; it was a concrete belief that he was from another world, another planet. He was consumed with the belief that he was not of this world and talked about it on numerous occasions.
6. When Mr. Echols met new people, he believed they always thought he was strange. He believed that his peers, teachers, and strangers were against him. He analyzed everything that was said to him and attributed special meaning to their words. He was especially suspicious of his trial counsel and sensed they did not like him, were afraid of him, and believed he worshipped the devil. Mr. Echols was preoccupied with his paranoia to the exclusion of knowing what was actually happening in the courtroom. He constantly scanned the audience, the cameras, witnesses, and attorneys and believed that they were looking at him in a special way, but I could clearly tell they were not even looking at him. I was unable to persuade him that others were not watching him with the intensity he believed. Mr. Echols held on to his beliefs regardless of evidence to the contrary.
7. Much of Mr. Echolsí behavior was unpredictable and bizarre. He had bizarre topics of conversation that made him laugh inappropriately. At many other times, he lost contact with reality and acted as if he were in a trance, staring but not seeing. He had difficulty sleeping, looked haggard and exhausted, and felt physically ill frequently. He rocked, pulled his hair, but his fingers and nails, and bit his lower lip. Mr. Echols also wrote me notes or letters that showed his bizarre and psychotic thinking, depression, hallucinations.
8. At the time I accepted the assignment in Mr. Echolsí case, I had little experience in investigating any stage of capital trial litigation, including penalty phase preparation, on behalf of the defense. I was not familiar with the legal standards for claims related to mental health of the defendant such as competency to stand trial and its two pronged test requiring that the defendant understand legal proceedings against him and be able to aid and assist counsel in a rational manner. I also did not know how to determine if a defendantís behavior and functioning were signs and symptoms of mental illness that could indicate a defendant was incompetent to stand trial. I also did not know the range of mental health and social history records that would be relevant for any determination about the defendantís mental state. I did not appreciate how to document the origin, nature, severity and consequences of mental illness by obtaining collateral information from family members, peers, and others who had known the defendant over time. I did request the Social Security Administration to provide me with any and all records relating to Mr. Echolsí disability determination; however, they were not received prior to trial.
Under the penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States and the State of Tennessee I swear that the foregoing is true and correct and executed this 27th day of December, 2000, in the County of Shelby.