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A lawyer for one of the three men convicted of killing three 8-year-old Cub Scouts in West Memphis told the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday that new scientific evidence in the case merits reopening his client's case.

Damien Echols has maintained his innocence since his arrest in the 1993 killings. Attorney Dennis Riordan told the court that DNA testing conducted after Echols' conviction did not place Echols at the scene and that other scientific evaluation of evidence contradicts statements made by one of the three men during a confession.

Riordan asked the court to send the case back to circuit court for an evidentiary hearing so that the trial judge can sort out the new evidence.

If the hearing is conducted, Riordan said the judge would have to take the next step and order a new trial.

"It is in the interest of the state and Mr. Echols that we get to that point as soon as possible," Riordan said.

The Legislature passed a law allowing DNA testing in cases when the technology wasn't available in the original trial, Assistant Attorney General David Roupp argued the evidence has to prove innocence, not just raise questions.


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