West Memphis 3: Free

With an unusual plea deal, three men are freed after being wrongfully convicted of murder nearly 20 years ago

Private investigator Rachael Geiser was working on Damien Echols' case in 2007 - when evidence found at the crime scene was re-tested for DNA.

One key find was a hair entangled in the ligature that bound 8-year-old victim Michael Moore.

According to Geiser, "whoever tied it, there was a hair caught in it. And that would just be extremely incriminating evidence in my opinion."

The DNA did not match any of the victims. More important, it excluded Damien, Jason, and Jessie. But incredibly, the hair in the knot was consistent with Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch.

Hobbs says one of the victims could have carried the hair to the crime scene. "They played in our homes ... if it got there by transfer, that's how it happened --

... if it was even my hair."

Fourteen years after the murders, the police finally questioned Hobbs.

Hobbs has told varying stories that often contradict what other people have said. For example, his friend, David Jacoby, in a sworn affidavit, said he was in the woods with Hobbs after dark, but not between 6 and 6:30, as Terry said.

"You know that David Jacoby says that you left and you went off by yourself," Moriarty told Hobbs.

"Well, I went off with David. David left with me," he said.

"He is then lying when he says that?"

"David didn't say that."

"So you say you were never by yourself?"

"Correct."

When asked if she thinks her ex-husband, Terry Hobbs, is an honest guy, Pam replied, "No. I've caught him in quite a few lies over the years."

In 1993, Terry Hobbs' ex-wife, Pam, lashed out at the teenagers she believed killed her son. Now, she has doubts.

"Does that trouble you, the fact that DNA that is consistent with Terry's found right in the ligature?" Moriarty asked Pam, who replied with a nod.

What troubles Pam is that years after the murders, she found Stevie's small pocketknife with Terry's belongings. Terry says he took it from Stevie long before the crime.

"As a parent, you don't want an 8-year-old to carry a pocketknife around," Hobbs told Moriarty.

"And as far as you know, did Stevie have that knife up until the day he died?"

"Uh huh."

"Are you saying that Terry lied about that?"

"Terry did lie."

Although Pam now says that in her heart she can't believe Terry could have committed such a horrible crime, she did wonder why her ex-husband waited so long to tell her that Stevie was missing...

"If you were really worried and Stevie had never been out that late, you didn't call Pam and say, 'Look, your son still isn't home?'" Moriarty asked Terry.

"Pam was working," he replied.

There is one matter on which Terry Hobbs has been very consistent: He has always said he didn't see his stepson, Stevie, at all the day he disappeared.

"So, you're saying for a fact you did not see Stevie all day?" Moriarty asked.

"That's the truth," Terry replied.

Two of Terry's old neighbors dispute that. Debby Moyer lived with her daughter, Jamie - 13 at the time, just three houses away from Stevie Branch when he was murdered.

Asked if police ever knocked on their door to ask them any questions, Debby says, "If they did, I did not see 'em."

So they said nothing until 2008, when they called a tip line set up Damien's defense team to report something they remembered seeing back on May 5, 1993. Around 6:30, they say, they saw the boys playing in their backyard as Jamie was leaving for a church meeting. She spoke with Chris Byers.

"He ran right out in the bushes in between the two houses," she explains. "And I said, 'Christopher, go home.' And he said, 'I don't have to do what you tell me to do.'"

Right then, she says, Terry Hobbs called out to the boys.

"And he said, 'Get back down here to the house.' And they went that direction."

"Terry Hobbs has said to me that he did not see the boys at all that day," Moriarty told Jaime.

"If he says he did not see them, he's not tellin' the truth" she said. "He saw 'em. He was out there with 'em. He told 'em to come to his house."

"I did not see Stevie at all on May 5th," Hobbs told Moriarty.

"Are they mistaken?"

"They're lying."

"Terry, you gotta help me out. Why would they lie?"

"I don't know why."

"Did you kill your stepson? Did you have anything to do with his death?"

"No. I did not."

"Why should somebody believe you?"

"It's the truth."

After Hobbs spoke with the West Memphis police in 2007, they told the press that he was not - and never had been - a suspect. Still, the DNA evidence would be critical if Damien ever got a new trial says his attorney Stephen Braga.

"This hair from the Moore ligature is not sufficient to convict Terry Hobbs of committing these crimes," he explained. "And we've never said that we have proof that he committed these crimes. What is sufficient to show is a reasonable doubt that these defendants did not do it because it's definitely not their hair."

But getting a new trial seemed almost impossible. Appeal after appeal was turned down until finally, in August 2011, came a development that no one could have anticipated.

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