A Crittenden County judge ruled today that the court won’t allow new DNA testing of evidence in the West Memphis Three murders.

Damien Echols had petitioned for permission to have new testing for DNA on ligatures found with the three slain boys in a drainage ditch near West Memphis in 1993. 

Circuit Judge Tonya Alexander denied Echols’ request in a Thursday morning hearing in West Memphis, citing an Arkansas statute that requires those petitioning for new DNA testing to still be in prison. 

Echols’ attorney stated they plan to appeal. 

Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, were convicted in 1994 for the killings, spending years in prison until they were granted immediate freedom under a plea deal known as an Alford Plea, which permitted the three to maintain their innocence yet plead guilty in exchange for 18-year-sentences and credit for time served.

The three convicted men were released in 2011, and have been working to clear their names since.

DNA evidence never linked them to the murders of the three 8-year-old boys — Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore. 

Lawyers argued advanced genetic testing equipment could detect fragments of DNA that were not detectable when evidence was first examined in the early ’90s.