The Boot Injury

Jackie Hicks, the grandfather of Stevie Branch on Page 134 of the book, The Blood of Innocents:

“Some son of a bitch has done a number on this baby with a pair of combat boots or engineer’s boots,” Hicks told himself, then others.

Jackie would make the same assertion during his March 16, 1993 appearance on the show Geraldo. During the episode, Geraldo Rivera asked Jackie about what had happened to his grandson, which is described below:

Geraldo: Tell us. Help us understand that. What did they do to him? 

Mr. HICKS: What did they do to him? His jaw was completely tore loose from his face. His eye was busted in the socket. His chest and all was kicked and stomped. His face was kicked and stomped–just pitiful, pitiful. It’s something that a decent human being wouldn’t even do to a live dog, let alone a human being.

In both the film, West of Memphis and in news accounts on animal predation claims in the murders of Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers, a heavily cropped and enlarged autopsy photo was shown, alleged to be a turtle bite by those working for the defense or the film makers and celebrities helping the defense.

A link to a photo of the alleged “turtle bite” injury.

However testimony during the appeals process revealed that this injury was inflicted while alive, inflicted by an unknown implement according to Dr. Frank Peretti. And in fact there were numerous related injuries all on the face and head of victim, Stevie Branch, which one could not see in the cropped and enlarged photo that the defense and film makers presented to the public. But most significant was a rectangular or square like pattern which is visible in  numerous autopsy photos and even in the photo presented in West of Memphis.

The “turtle bite” injury seen in another autopsy photo, in a non-enlarged photo, with very minimal cropping.

The mysterious pattern highlighted.

A collage of several different photos of the same injury showing the rectangular pattern.

It appears, just from looking at multiple autopsy photos, that there was a pattern on Stevie’s face, like that of the sole of a boot or shoe print, which was more likely the source and cause of the so-called “turtle bite” injury.


(Brent Turvey.)

Brent Turvey, a criminal profiler, hired by the defense had similarly discussed in an online chat the possibility of footwear impressions being on the head of Stevie Branch, though he discussed an injury on the back of the victim’s head that was shown during appeals to not be a footwear impression but an injury resulting from the back of his head slamming into the ground as the front of his head took a massive impact from whatever had struck him.

Below is Truvey’s conversation mentioning additional types of injuries the defense was looking into:

<Ratgrrl> What are pattern wounds exactly and what other kinds of wounds did you see on the kids?

<Brent_Tur> Rat– Potential footwear impression on the back of Stevie Branches head. Belt marks from a severe whipping, cutting deep into the tissue on Chris Byers thigh, and an impression from the knife hilt in the genital area of chris byers, where he was emasculated.

Link to Turvey’s full online chat.

Notice he mentions a footwear impression, but as stated before the specific injury he was discussing was determined to be the result of an impact to the front of Stevie Branch’s face, and therefore could not be a footwear impression. However that still left the injuries that Jackie Hicks described, saying that it looked like someone kicked and stomped on his face. Did Hicks just presume that his grandson had been kicked and stomped on with a pair of boots? Or did someone in Law Enforcement tell him that theory? And why was the defense investigating the notion that he had his head stomped on?


(Boots worn by Damien Echols.)


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