JONESBORO, AR - The father of Christopher Byers, one of the 8-year-old West Memphis murder victims, doesn't believe the West Memphis Three killed his son.
He's been very vocal over the years and Friday, August 19, 2011, he didn't hold back his feelings about their innocence. While nearly everyone agreed with Byers' father outside the courthouse, a few didn't and that led to some tense moments.
"There are no winners here," John Mark Byers proclaimed. "My son's still dead. Stevie and Michael are still dead. They're not going to resurrect like Lazarus. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly have to live the rest of their lives being called baby killers because they're being forced to admit it in court."
Beyers makes no apologies for the way he feels. He says justice was only partially served. While he's happy the three are out, he absolutely hates they had to admit to the killings in a special plea deal to gain their freedom.
Byers was the only victim's family member to speak outside the courthouse Friday. The still grieving father ended up holding a court of his own.
Out of hundreds of supporters, there were a few protestors. They were easy to spot as the family walked out after the WM3 were freed.
A 16-year-old girl and another man confronted Byers, arguing with him and others in the crowd.
"It's illegal, do you not get that," the girl cried.
"You are pathetic. She's 16-years-old," the man shouted at Byers.
"Did you have a child who was murdered?" Byers cried. "Step away. Step away. You're white trash."
Byers says the heated words between people who are polarized over the guilt or innocence of the WM3 are a typical reaction. It's the same fight he's been having over and over again for the last 18 years.
"That's the way it goes," he says. "No one knows until you've had a child murdered and people in prison who didn't do it. You have people come up and want to attack you. They say stuff and, yeah, I'm going to react and it's not going to be nice. I'm only human."
While Friday's freeing of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley puts an end to one chapter in the West Memphis Three saga, Byers believes the story's far from being over
"I'm very happy that they're free, but I wish it was under different circumstances," he tells abc24.com. "They weren't declared innocent, which they really are. And I don't believe it's over and set in stone and that this is the way it's going to end."