IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
NATALIE PASDAR, et al.,
CV NO.: 4-09-CV-0008BSM
DECLARATION OF JOHN MARK BYERS
I, John Mark Byers, declare as follows:
1. "My name is John Mark Byers. I am over the age of 21 and competent to give this declaration.
2. All of the information set forth herein is within my personal knowledge and is true and correct.
3. I am the father of Christopher Byers. Christopher is one of the 8 year old boys who was murdered in Robin Hood Hills, West Memphis, Arkansas, on or about May 5, 1993.
4. In 1994, three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jessie Miskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were convicted of the murders. The press has referred to these three teenagers as the West Memphis 3.
5. It is almost unbelievable the attention that the public and press have focused on the murders, the trials, the West Memphis 3, the victims and the victim's families. Newspapers from West Memphis, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas, and all over the United States, including The New York Times have run stories on the murders, the trials, the West Memphis 3, the victims, the victim's families and how all of these events have effected everyone.
6. HBO, the national cable channel, has aired two documentaries on the murderers, the trials and the victims and their families. The first documentary is called Paradise Lost: Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, the second documentary is called Paradise Lost: Revelations. I know that the documentaries have appeared a
number of times on HBO. I also know that the documentaries are available for rental on VHS and DVD. There is no telling how many people have seen this story of the murderers, the trials and the victims and their families as a result of these documentaries.
7. Soon after the murders, in J994, Pam Hobbs and Terry Hobbs ("Hobbs"), the parents of one of the victims, Stevie Branch, appeared on The Geraldo Show to discuss the murders, the trials, the West Memphis 3, how their lives have been affected by the murders and some of the events of May 5, 1993.
8. In June of 2007, the West Memphis police interviewed Terry Hobbs. The interview of Hobbs was made public and was put on the Internet. The video of the interview and transcripts of the interview are available to the press and public and have been since around the time of the interview. If you search the net for Terry Hobbs West Memphis police you can find videos of these interviews.
9. In June and July 2007, certain events happened that made the murders, the trials, the victims, the victims' families and Terry Hobbs in particular even more the focus of press attention. Specifically, new evidence came to light regarding the murders and that new evidence was made public in July of 2007. The first bit of new evidence that came to light was that two hairs had been found at the crime scene. These hairs were tested for DNA, and one hair was consistent with the hair of Hobbs. The other hair was consistent with the hair of Hobbs' friend David Jacoby.
10. As you can imagine, when it was announced in July 2007 that DNA at the scene appeared to be DNA from the stepfather of Stevie Branch, the press pushed the story. There were many news stories which reported the DNA evidence and linked it to Terry Hobbs.
11. Terry hired a spokesman who gave many interviews in response to the finding of the DNA evidence. I read numerous interviews were the spokesperson was talking about the DNA evidence and whether Terry could have been involved in the murders. The spokesperson was named Ross Sampson.
12. Terry also gave a number of interviews in which he discussed the DNA evidence and whether he was involved in the murders. I read many of these articles.
13. In some of the articles, Terry complained that the West Memphis 3 defense team was ruining his life and reputation.
14. Based on all of this new evidence, Damien Echols filed a document in court seeking to get his release or a new trial. This document was filed some time in late October of 2007 or early November of 2007. His team of lawyers held a press conference and announced information about the filing.
15. I believe Terry Hobbs was involved in the murders. Some of the reasons I believe Hobbs was involved are set forth below.
16. Hobbs has claimed that the first time he met me was at 6:00 PM at Dana Moore's house when Dana, myself and Hobbs were looking for our children. He has claimed that at this time, 6 PM, I said I was going to call the police and report my son missing. Hobbs has also stated that he and his friend David Jacoby were searching Robin Hood Hills for the boys at 6:00 PM or 6:30 PM. Hobbs' statements ate false.
17. In fact, I met Hobbs at my house at approximately 8:20 or 8:30 PM. I know it was 8:20 or 8:30 PM or so, because: (1) Dana Moore had last seen the boys riding their bikes around 6:00 PM; and (2) I called the police to report Christopher missing around 8:08 PM. Simply put, I did not and Dana Moore did not even think the boys were missing at 6:00 PM or 6:30 PM. At 6:00 PM I was in the West Memphis courthouse picking up my son, Ryan, who was testifying in a car wreck case. Officer Regina Meeks came over to my house to take the report after I called it in. Dana Moore, the mother of Michael Moore, saw the police car and came over to my house to report her son missing as well. As Officer Meeks was leaving, Hobbs walked up.
18. I believe the reason that Hobbs' incorrect statements about the time we met and when he was searching is so important is because in fact, Hobbs' whereabouts from approximately 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM are wholly unaccounted for. David Jacoby, Hobbs' friend, has stated to me that Hobbs came to his house at approximately 5:00 PM and that as he was opening the door to let Hobbs in, he saw 2 boys on bicycles and 1 boy on a skateboard ride by his house and that he believes one of the boys was Stevie. Jacoby has stated that Hobbs left at approximately 6:00 PM or 6:30 PM to see if Stevie had come home. No one knows Hobbs' whereabouts from that time, 6:00 PM or 6:30 PM, until I saw Hobbs at the my house at approximately 8:30 PM. I believe that Hobbs has stated that he met me at the Moores at 6:00 PM so that he has an alibi for this time period in which his whereabouts are actually unknown. Jacoby also told me that he did not cross the pipe bridge or search in the woods for Stevie.
19. Several years ago, I was talking to Hobbs and he made the statement that we had met for the first time around 6:00 PM on May 5, 1993. I told him that no, it was around 8:00 PM. He became enraged and started yelling, "it was 6:00 PM, it was 6:00 PM." I believe he was trying to convince me that it was 6:00 PM so that he would have an alibi, and the fact that I knew that he was lying sent him into a rage.
20. Hobbs also failed to tell his wife that Stevie was missing until he picked her up from work at 9:00 PM. This seems very strange to me. If a child were missing, the mother would want to know and I would think the stepfather would call her at work and tell her to leave work and come look.
21. Fairly soon after the murders, I asked Hobbs to go with me to shoot guns. I knew he had a 9 mm gun because Hobbs had told me about it. He claimed he couldn't go shoot with me because he thought his brother-in-law, Jackie Hicks, Jr., had stolen his gun.
22. In June of 2007, Hobbs also stated that he saw a black male "bum" crossing the bridge by Catfish Island, that he had long hair, raggedy clothes and that "he's noticeable, that image sticks in frame" for Hobbs. Hobbs also claims that his wife, Pam, was with him when he saw the black man.
23. Prior to June 2007, I am unaware of Hobbs ever having mentioned seeing the black man to police or to me or to anyone involved with the events. That means that for 14 years, Hobbs had never said anything about the black man to anyone who bad the power to investigate the sighting. I believe that Hobbs is now trying to throw another suspect into the mix to keep attention off of him. However, his statement is completely incredible. Why would a father not mention to the police for 14 years that he had seen a suspicious man around the location of the murders? It makes no sense, unless Terry Hobbs is trying to deflect attention from himself.
24. Hobbs told me many things that were simply not true around the time of the murders. He told me he was living in a different house at the time of the murders than the house he was actually living in. He told me that Stevie was cut from his ear to his jaw and that the right side of Stevie's face was gone; that was not true. Hobbs claimed he searched the woods with Officer Regina Meeks and in fact, she has stated she did not ever search into the woods because there were too many mosquitoes.. Hobbs has said that he was the first parent to call the police about the missing boys; that is not true.
25. Hobbs called me and told me that an investigator for the West Memphis 3, Ron Lax, had called him and told him that the DNA in the ligature of one of the victims matched his DNA. Hobbs told me that he had met with Lax. I asked Hobbs why he met with Lax, and Hobbs said that he went out of curiosity.
26. On one occasion, I asked Hobbs, "What if those three (the West Memphis 3) didn't do it, what happened if it was an accident?" Of course, it is preposterous to think that three 8 year old boys could be killed in the way that they were and it was an accident. Hobbs responded: "You are right, it could have been an accident and that would be like a drunk diver, that person would not be a monster." I thought it was appalling that a father of a victim would attempt to excuse such a vicious murder. It made me very suspicious of Hobbs' involvement to see him having sympathy for the murderer and/or explaining that he might not be a monster.
27. Hobbs has told me that he has a storage area where he keeps things. I have tried to get him to take me there and he has said he will but he never will."
I declare under penalty that the foregoing is true and correct and that this declaration was executed in Shelby County, Tennessee.