where are the west memphis three today

It's been 10 years since the West Memphis Three were released from the prison apparatus, but now there is so much new stuff going on in. '” They were released from prison today. Over the years, musicians such as the members of Alkaline Trio, Henry Rollins and Pearl Jam's Eddie. “Even now, the case of the West Memphis Three still lingers as many questions remain unanswered, and confusion looms over a mystery that fueled. where are the west memphis three today

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The West Memphis three: How a trilogy of HBO documentaries helped free three men convicted of murder

On 5 May, 1993, three eight-year-old boys went missing in the city of West Memphis, Arkansas. Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers were found the next day in a wooded area along the interstate highway, their bodies nude, bound, and apparently mutilated. One month later, three teenagers – Jessie Misskelley Jr, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin – were charged with 2020 jaguar f type the three second-graders.

What followed is an 18-year saga that would see the West Memphis Three, closest at home store Misskelley, Echols, and Baldwin became known, get convicted of the crime despite maintaining their innocence. Rumours of a satanic crime spread around the community. All were convicted, an outcome bolstered in part by Misskelley’s controversial confession, which he ultimately recanted. Echols was sentenced to death; Misskelley and Baldwin received life sentences. The trio spend almost two decades behind bars and, in Echols’s case, on death row, before being freed in 2011 as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Over the years, their case became a cause célèbre, with high-profile advocates such as Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Eddie Vedder, and Peter Jackson publicly supporting the West Memphis Three. It also formed the basis of three documentaries that helped bring the fate of the three men back to the forefront, years before the world found itself engrossed by true-crime hits such as Serial, Wild Wild Country, and Making a Murderer.

Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who would eventually devote two decades of their lives to the West Memphis Three, starting working on the first film of the trilogy convinced of Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin’s guilt. “In the first film, there was no advocacy impulse that sent us down to West Memphis, Arkansas, originally,” Berlinger told The AV Club in 2012. “We thought we were making a film about disaffected youth, about kids who had done something rotten. Basically, we thought they were guilty because the local press reports coming out were very one-sided.”

But while shooting the first instalment, Berlinger and Sinofsky became aware of issues in the case – a realisation that would result in their eventual pledge to keep making movies about the West Memphis Three until they were freed. “Several months into the process, most notably when we finally got access to the West Memphis Three – although, they were not called the West Memphis Three back then – Bruce and I felt there was something not quite right,” Berlinger added. “The more we dug into it, the more we realised that this was not a case about guilty teens run amok. These guys have been wrongfully charged. We were still naive enough to believe that it would all work itself out at the trial.”

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, the first chapter of the trilogy, was released by HBO in 1996, documenting Misskelley’s, Echols’s, and Baldwin’s trials. It informed the public of several few key elements, including that Misskelley had an IQ of 72 at the time of his questioning by authorities, and that his defence attorney maintained that his confession, in which he had implicated Echols and Baldwin, had been forced – a narrative naturally disputed by the prosecution. The documentary also includes abundant, often striking trial footage, such as clips of a teenage, baby-faced Echols attempting to explain the principles of Wicca to an Arkansas courtroom, and having to deny ever being part of “any type of human sacrifice”.

Pulitzer-winning critic Roger Ebert received Paradise Lost as such: “The film creates a vivid portrait of a subculture in which Satan is a where are the west memphis three today figure. Where did Damien, Jason and Jesse hear about satanic rituals? Mostly in church, it would appear. Some members of this community seem to require Satanism as part of their world view; they seize upon the devil to explain what dismays them. .We leave the film unsure about who committed the murders, but convinced that an obsession with Satanism extends here far beyond the circle of defendants.”

Joe Berlinger, Jessie Misskelley Jr, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Bruce Sinofsky at a screening of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory on 10 October 2011 in New York City.
Damien Echols and actor Johnny Depp at the ‘West of Memphis’ photo call during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September 2012 in Toronto, Canada.

Paradise Lost went on to win the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Informational Programming in 1997. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, the first of two sequels, followed in 2000, documenting Echols’s appeal of his death sentence and examining more elements of the case. The film earned an Emmy nomination as well as this remark by Ebert: “Watching it, you feel like an eyewitness to injustice.”

The final film, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory came out in 2012, five months after the three men’s release. It ends with extraordinary footage of Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley entering Alford pleas and walking free for the first time in 18 years. An Alford plea is a peculiar judicial beast, in that it requires a defendant in a criminal case to enter a guilty plea while asserting their innocence.

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“The reason [the Alford plea] exists is so that it sort of brings closure to a case and it prevents a state from being responsible for what they’ve done,” Echols told Katie Couric in 2014. “They don’t have to compensate you in any sort of where are the west memphis three today or ever admit that they made a mistake.”

Winona Ryder at an event in support of the West Memphis Three on 6 September 2003 in Los Angeles, California.
Fran Walsh, Amy Berg, Peter Jackson, Lorri Davis, and Damien Echols at the New York premiere of ‘West Of Memphis’ on 7 December 2012.
Marilyn Manson and Damien Echols at an event on 11 April 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Echols told Couric that despite those specificities, he didn’t have a hard time taking the plea, his health having begun to seriously deteriorate while on death row. Perhaps the most gripping moment in the entire Paradise Lost trilogy – and there are many – comes when a 34-year-old, freshly liberated Baldwin explains during a 2011 press conference that he “did not want to take the deal from the get-go”.

“However, they’re trying to kill Damien and sometimes you just have to bite the gun to save somebody,” adds Baldwin, who, unlike Echols, was sentenced to life behind bars but did not receive the death penalty in the case. Echols, 36, says in turn of Baldwin: “I want to publicly thank Jason too. Just to let him know that I do acknowledge what he did, that he did want to keep fighting. He didn’t want to take this deal in the beginning. And I recognise and acknowledge that he did do it almost entirely for me.” He then turns to Baldwin and adds: “Thank you” before being pulled into a hug.

Joe Berlinger, Jason Baldwin and Bruce Sinofsky at the 84th Academy Awards on 26 February 2012 in Hollywood, California.
Damien Echols and his wife Lorri Davis at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival on 20 January 2012 in Park City, Utah.

Paradise Lost 3 was nominated for two Emmys as well as the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Like its two predecessors, the documentary featured music by Metallica, one of the bands favoured by Echols – a fact that displeased the prosecution back in 1993, as did his taste for Stephen King novels. The band’s drummer and co-founder Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone in 2011 that lending music to the project was “the least we could do”. “They were outsiders who didn’t fit into what that community wanted,” he added. “I could definitely identify with them. We all could.”

Echols and Peter Jackson co-produced another documentary, titled West of Memphis, directed by Amy J Berg and released in 2012, the same year as Paradise Lost 3. The Independent gave it one of several positive reviews, noting at the time: “Director Berg lays out the film with clarity and persuasiveness, and brings it as close to a happy ending as the tragic squalor of the case will allow.”

Now living in New York City, Echols devotes his time to magick, a spiritual practice. His memoir, Life After Death, came out in 2012 and became a New York Times Best-Seller. Baldwin co-founded the non-profit Proclaim Justice, which advocates for inmates who say they’ve been wrongfully convicted.

Echols recently spoke to the Wrongful Conviction podcast about what he learned about isolation while on death row, and how others can learn from his experience to better cope with coronavirus lockdown. “Don’t just worry the days away – seize them, and wring every ounce of opportunity out of them,” he wrote on his website. “On death row, I turned my cell into a monastery and used the time to learn, grow, and expand. We can all easily do this right now.”

Источник: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/west-memphis-three-documentaries-damien-echols-jason-baldwin-jessie-misskelley-paradise-lost-hbo-a9498786.html

The Messed Up Truth About The West Memphis Three Murders

West Memphis Police Department

By William J. Wright/Nov. 3, 2020 4:14 pm EST

On the evening of May 5, 1993, three 8-year-old boys disappeared from the streets of West Memphis, Ark. Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers were best friends. Classmates at Weaver Elementary School, the three were active in their Cub Scout troop and responsible enough to be trusted to roam their neighborhood without supervision.

The following day revealed the unthinkable, when the bloodied and bruised bodies of the three boys were found submerged in a muddy creek in a wooded area called Robin Hood Hills. Two questions plagued the conservative, middle-class community: Why would anyone commit such a heinous act, and, more importantly, who?

As rumors of a Satanic sacrifice swept the community, the minds of many in West Memphis were already made up. The only possible culprits were 18-year-old Damien Echols, a poor teen with an interest in the occult and a record of mental illness, his friend Jason Baldwin, a quiet kid whose talent for art tended toward dark subjects, and Jessie Misskelley, a 17-year-old misfit with an IQ of 73.

The arrest, trial, and conviction of the three young men known as the West Memphis Three came under national scrutiny as details of the case became public. As the How to get a debit card at 14 Memphis Three languished behind bars for 18 years, thousands of supporters called out for their freedom while others vehemently declared their guilt. This is a story of justice delayed and justice denied. This is the true story of the West Memphis Three murders.

A horrifying crime scene in West Memphis

HBO

As recounted in Mara Leveritt's book, Devil's Knot, a thorough search of Robin Hood Hills directed by Chief Inspector Gary W. Gitchell of the West Memphis Police Department commenced early on the morning of May 6, 1993. Despite the best efforts of the police, dozens of volunteers, a search-and-rescue team, and a helicopter dispatched from nearby Memphis, Tenn., searchers came up empty handed.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., Steve Jones, a juvenile parole officer from Crittenden County, peered over the steep bank of a water-filled ditch in the woods near the Blue Beacon truck wash. Spotting a small, black tennis shoe in the water, Jones radioed for help. Minutes later, Sgt. Mike Allen arrived on the scene. Wading into the murky water, Allen unknowingly dislodged the pale, grotesquely arched form of Micheal Moore.

With the area secured, Detective Bryn Ridge volunteered to search the ditch. Making his way through the muck on his hands and knees, Ridge soon discovered clothing twisted around sticks and thrust into the ditch's bottom. The next to be found was Stevie Branch, quickly followed by Christopher Byers. All three had been submerged face down in the mud, stripped naked, and bound with their shoelaces. Covered in wounds, all three showed signs of having been beaten. The community's worst fears were confirmed. A murderer was loose in West Memphis.

A mishandled investigation of the West Memphis murders

HBO

According to Devil's Knot author Mara Leveritt, the investigation wells fargo checking account login page the murders was divided along three lines. The first being that boys were killed by someone they knew. The second postulated that they had been slain by one or more strangers. The third put forth the unusual theory that the killings were committed as a cult ritual. Unfortunately, for three teen outsiders, the West Memphis Police Department chose to focus on the cult angle to the detriment of their efforts to investigate the other two, more likely scenarios.

However, within the first crucial hours after the bodies were discovered, mistakes were made at the crime scene that negatively impacted the investigation. The bodies had been removed from the water and placed on the adjacent embankment, possibly disturbing physical evidence or otherwise contaminating the scene. Although the bodies were discovered at 1:30 p.m., investigators didn't call the coroner until 3:58 p.m. By the time the coroner arrived, fly larvae were already present in the nostrils and eyes of the victims. Lying in the open air in near 80-degree temperatures accelerated the decomposition of the bodies. Luminol tests, which reveal the hidden presence of blood, were not performed at the scene until six days later.

Also, law enforcement chose not to focus on the victims' families as the starting point of the investigation as is the norm. None of the early interviews with the parents were recorded. Investigators kept minimal notes and omitted pertinent details including criminal records.

In the shadow of the Satanic Panic

HBO

One of the keys to understanding the West Memphis Three murders is the phenomenon known as the Satanic Panic. Reaching its apex in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Satanic Panic was a wave of paranoia rooted in the belief that Satanic cults intent on corrupting the souls of the young had infiltrated American society. Heavy metal music, role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, and horror movies were regarded as gateways to evil. Best selling books such as Lawrence Pazder's Michelle Remembers and disgraced evangelical comedian Mike Warnke's The Satan Seller fueled the madness with tales of ritual abuse and human sacrifice.

In the Bible Belt, the Satanic Panic took hold with a vengeance. With a large population of fundamentalist Christians, the American South was particularly subject to occult paranoia. In the minds of many, the bizarre nature of the Robin Hood Hills murders could only have been committed by one of Satan's minions. On the surface, 18-year-old Damien Echols, an intelligent, but psychologically troubled teen with interests in Wicca and extreme music, fit the profile. Echols' disdain for authority, penchant for black clothes, and propensity to make shocking statements didn't help his plight.

"People probably think I'm in Satanism because . what they don't understand they try to destroy or ridicule. . West Memphis is pretty much like a second Salem," Echols stated in the 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Murders at Robin Hood Hills. ". Every crime, no matter what it is, gets blamed on Satanism."

Jessie Misskelley's problematic confessions to the murders

HBO

On the morning of June 2, 1993, Jessie Misskelley Jr., a 17-year-old high school drop out with a reported IQ of 73, was taken into custody by Detective Mike Allen. Unaware of what was to come, Allen explained that he just wanted to ask him some questions. ". (Detective Allen) told me if I knew anything, that there was a $35,000 reward, and if I could help them out, we'd get the money," said Misskelley, as quoted by Mara Leveritt in Devil's Knot.

Initially, Misskelley repeatedly denied having knowledge of the crime, aside from rumors that Damien Echols was involved. However, under pressure, leading questions, and scare tactics, Misskelley wove a contradictory story that first placed him at the crime scene as an eyewitness to the murders and then as an active participant. In this first confession, Miskelley often agreed to details suggested by the police or attributed to prior statements which he did not make.

Misskelley's coerced confession, as contradictory as it seemed to the evidence, was consistent in implicating Echols and Jason Baldwin. Misskelley, who had entered the West Memphis police station that morning with hopes of reward money he might use to purchase a new truck for his father found himself instead charged with murder and facing life plus 40 years in prison.

A later confession during the trial phase would prove equally problematic. Despite an offer of a reduced sentence, Misskelley ultimately recanted his statements and refused to testify against Echols pnc bank locations towson md Baldwin.

Damien Echols was his own worst enemy

HBO

Although Damein Echols had a teenager's typical disdain for authority, he nevertheless trusted that the system would work in his favor. Certain that, under what he felt were ridiculous circumstances, Echols' confidence and, on occasion, flippant attitude during the trial was often misinterpreted as evidence of his coldness toward the victims and their families. A statement he made to the producers of Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills did little to help his public image. "I knew from when I was real small that people were going to know who I was," Echols said in 1994. ". I kind of enjoy it because now even after I die, people are going to remember me forever. . People in West Memphis are going to tell their kids stories. It'll be sort of like I'm the West Memphis boogeyman. Little kids will be looking under their bed — 'Damien might be under there!'"

In 1999, a more mature Echols explained the comment. "The reason I made the West Memphis boogeyman comment during the first film was because I was making light of the situation," Echols says in Paradise Lost 2: Revelations. ". I didn't even comprehend that the situation could get this serious — that it can go this far. Because I was thinking, if you haven't done anything, then they can't prove you did something you haven't actually done. That didn't make sense to me. Now, I see they can."  

Vicki Hutcheson, the amateur detective of the West Memphis murders

Wingnut Films/Sony Pictures Classics

According to Devil's Knot, a week after the discovery of the bodies, Detective Don Bray interviewed Vicki Hutcheson, a truckstop employee. Bray asked her if she knew about rumored cult activity in the community. Stating that she would ask around, Hutcheson agreed to "play detective."

Knowing that how to close my best buy account police were already focusing on Damien Echols, Hutcheson asked her neighbor, Jessie Misskelley Jr., about the brooding teen and his occult connection. Misskelley told Hutcheson that he really didn't know much about Echols other than that he was "a weird person." Feigning a romantic interest in Echols, she asked Misskelley to arrange a meeting.

At the suggestion of the police, Hutcheson hid microphones in her home and borrowed occult books from the library to inspire Echols' interest. Nevertheless, Echols made no incriminating statements.

During Misskelley's trial, Hutcheson testified that she had attended an "an occult Satanic meeting" she referred to as an "esbat." Although she was unable to recall the exact location or anyone who attended the alleged meeting, she claimed a drunken Echols confessed to the murders.

In 2004, Vicki Hutcheson recanted her trial testimony, stating that she had lied on the stand. In her recantation, Hutcheson stated that when she asked Echols directly if he had killed "those three kids," he replied, "No. I wouldn't do something like that. I'm not stupid." She also stated that beyond the single meeting at her trailer, she had no further contact with Echols.

A dubious occult expert on the West Memphis murders

HBO

To bolster their assertions that the killings were related to occult activity — despite virtually no evidence – prosecutors brought in their own so-called expert on cult murders.

In 1994, Dr. Dale W. Griffis was a retired police officer who had embarked on a second career zions bank lobby hours a self-styled consultant on occult and cult-related crime. At the time of the West Memphis Three trial, Griffis claimed to have given seminars to 38,000 police officers all over the globe.

During the trials of Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols, Griffis drew tenuous links between circumstantial evidence, such as the killings taking place near the date of the pagan festival of Beltane. Griffis also found the devil in nearly every number associated with the crime. That there were three victims was a link to the biblical number fresh start checking accounts near me the beast. That the slain boys were each 8 years-old was important because eight was a "witch's number." Griffis also knew how to spot a Satanist. According to Griffis, black hair, black T-shirts, and black jeans were signs that a kid was in league with the devil.

Although Griffis' testimony was dramatic, it showed only a tenuous grasp of occult knowledge — much of it, including a reference to a cult called "Crytos," was simply made up. Defense attorneys also pointed out that Griffis' doctorate was obtained through a notorious diploma mill and had been awarded with Griffis having never attended a single class. Yet, Judge David Burnett accepted Griffis as an expert.

Celebrities take up the cause of the West Memphis Three murders

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

In 1996, HBO released the documentary film Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. Produced and directed by filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, the film and its two sequels, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, gave audiences a unique and where are the west memphis three today look into the case, the accused, and the families of victims. The first film gave rise to a movement devoted to reopening the investigation in hopes of exonerating, and ultimately freeing, Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley.

As the movement to free the West Memphis Three gained traction, a number of celebrities joined the cause, bringing the case under more scrutiny. Among those active in the cause were singer Eddie Vedder of the band Pearl Jam, the country music trio The Dixie Chicks, punk rock icon and poet Henry Rollins, and actor Johnny Depp.

Two of the West Memphis Three's most ardent supporters were director Peter Jackson, best known for The Lord of the Rings films, and his partner Fran Walsh. As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, Jackson and Walsh helped fund key investigations for the West Memphis Three's defense during the last seven years of their incarceration. In 2013, Jackson and Damien Echols produced a fourth documentary about the case. Titled West of Memphis, the film, directed by Amy J. Berg, presents an overview of the West Memphis Three's 18 years in prison, the revelation of new evidence, and explores the possibility of an alternate suspect.

Alternate suspects in the West Memphis Three murders

HBO

Over the course of the initial investigation, a number of alternate suspects and scenarios came to light that were largely ignored or otherwise dismissed by authorities. Among them was a disoriented, muddy, and bleeding African-American man who stumbled into captain america the first avenger mega download West Memphis Bojangles restaurant men's room less than a mile from the crime scene. Although blood scrapings were taken, the West Memphis police lost the evidence.

Other possible suspects included Brian Holland and Chris Morgan, two young men from Memphis, Tenn., with a history of drug offenses. The pair abruptly fled to Oceanside, Calif., four days after the murders. At the request of West Memphis authorities, the two were picked up and questioned by Oceanside police. Polygraph tests revealed deception in the answers of both men in regard to the crimes. After hours of questioning, a frustrated Morgan blurted out that he had been hospitalized for drug and alcohol abuse and might have committed the murders. Blood and urine samples from both men were collected and sent to the West Memphis Police Department. No explanation has yet been given as to why such a seemingly important lead was dropped.

New evidence in the West Memphis Three murders

In 2007, new DNA and physical evidence arose that seemed to further distance the West Memphis Three from the murders. As reported by the Arkansas Times, examination of the shoe laces used to bind Michael Moore contained hair "not inconsistent" with that of Stevie Branch's stepfather, Terry Hobbs.

Pam Hobbs divorced Terry Hobbs in 2004 and has reversed her position on the West Memphis Three's guilt. She has since expressed her belief that her ex-husband was involved in the murders, citing the discovery of her son's favorite pocket knife in Terry Hobbs' belongings. Inconsistencies in Terry Hobbs' where are the west memphis three today, as well as revelations about subsequent violent acts, have also led many to believe that he may be the actual killer.

Other details that have come to light include that many wounds on the slain children, originally attributed to human bites and/or a serrated blade, were the result of animals feeding on the bodies.

One of the prosecution's key pieces of evidence linking Jason Baldwin to the crime — a survival knife with a serrated edge recovered from a lake behind his home — has also come under scrutiny. The knife was thrown into the lake by Baldwin's mother a year before the murders.

To date, no DNA evidence from the crime scene can be linked to Damien Echols, Baldwin, or Jessie Misskelley.

The price of freedom for the West Memphis Three

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

With their 2007 request for a new trial rejected, time was running out for the West Memphis Three. However, in 2010, a series of rapidly unfolding developments turned the tide for Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. In November, Judge David Burnett, who had presided over the trial, was elected to the state senate. Replacing Burnett was Circuit Court Judge David Laser. Under order of the Arkansas Supreme Court, there were to be new evidentiary hearings in the case.

On Aug. 11, 2011, the West Memphis Three entered the courtroom for the final time. In a last ditch effort, they entered an Alford Plea, a complex and seldom used legal maneuver that would see them plead guilty while still asserting their innocence. Also part of the plea was the provision that the three could not sue the state. After 18 years in prison, the West Memphis Three were finally free, but not exonerated.

The enduring mystery of the West Memphis murders

Over two decades after the murders, what really happened to Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore on the evening of May 5, 1993, remains a mystery. Although the Alford Plea set the West Memphis Three free, they are, at least in the eyes of the law, guilty, and therefore, the state of Arkansas is under no obligation to continue investigating the crimes at this time.

In the years since the trial, John Mark Byers, adoptive father of Christopher Byers, and Pamela Hobbs, mother of Stevie Branch, became vocal supporters of the West Memphis Three. Terry Hobbs, Todd Moore, and Dana Moore still maintain that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley murdered their sons.

Echols is an author and mystic living New York with his wife, architect Lorri Davis. Baldwin is the co-founder of the legal advocacy organization Proclaim Justice. Misskelley returned to life in West Memphis.

Источник: https://www.grunge.com/271934/the-messed-up-truth-about-the-west-memphis-three-murders/

To clear the name of the "West Memphis Three" who were convicted in a 1993 murder, a powerful new documentary makes the case for another suspect. But is that actually responsible?

west of memphis 11 615 spc.jpg

Lisa Waddell © The Commercial Appeal, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The new documentary West of Memphis has received a lot of praise for the way it tells the story of three men who were convicted, perhaps wrongly, for the murders of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in the early '90s. "A gripping documentary," said the Guardian's review. "Compelling and comprehensive," proclaimed a New York Post article. "The film," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, "casts a hypnotic spell all its own."

But the rave reviews miss a dangerous hypocrisy at the heart of the film, which was paid for and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg. In their quest to clear the names of the "West 64 f to celsius Three"—Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. who were teenagers when they were convicted for the 1993 killings—the filmmakers decide that they have found the actual murderer: Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the murdered boys. And in publicly making the case against him, they perpetrate a similar sort of injustice to the one they originally set out to correct: relying on questionable evidence to prosecute in the court of public opinion.

Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch were found dead in a ditch, naked, bound, and mutilated, on May 6, 1993. They had been slain the night before. The ensuing manhunt, trials, and convictions captivated the small town and drew big-time media attention. Subsequently, HBO produced three documentary films about the case—the Paradise Lost trilogy—all of which strongly insinuate, and in some cases outright argue, that the Three are innocent. In the meantime, the Three's cause picked up celebrity support. Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp staged a "Free the West Memphis Three" benefit concert in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the convicts became international figures. One of the Three's most ardent supporters, Lorri Davis, became pen pals with Echols and eventually married him in jail.

Jackson and friends argue that the West Memphis Three were the victims of a witch hunt in bible-belt Arkansas, convicted in throes of "Satanic Panic." This argument suggests that because Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were outcasts who listened to heavy metal, read Stephen King, and dressed in black, they made for perfect scapegoats. Based on the flimsiest of evidence, including a confession from Misskelley that the filmmakers say was coerced, Misskelley and Baldwin got life sentences while Echols, the supposed ringleader, was sentenced to death. Last year, the Three were freed from prison after their lawyers successfully argued that new evidence dug up in the years since the convictions warranted an appeal in front of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

* * *

The filmmakers present a series of findings that seem to bode ill for Hobbs. For a start, there's the minimal DNA evidence found at the crime scene. Rain, it seems, had washed away any incriminating trails or threads. The most significant specimen was a hair found in one of the shoelaces used to tie up the dead boys. The DNA was consistent with only 1.5 percent of the population, how to close my best buy account it matched Hobbs's. Even if it could be proven to be Hobbs's, however, there's a chance it got on the shoelace through "secondary transfer"—in other words, Stevie's shoes might have picked up one of Hobbs's hairs just from lying around at home.

The filmmakers then call into question Hobbs's alibi, getting his friend, David Jacoby, to express doubt about how much time he spent with Hobbs on the night of the murders. However, Jacoby can't seem to recall the exact sequence of events that night—perhaps understandably, given that it took place 18 years ago.

Then the filmmakers highlight Hobbs's history of abuse. He has admitted to assaulting his wife, and he has been accused of beating his kids. A neighbor once accused him of attacking her. A different neighbor recalled seeing Hobbs with the three boys soon before they disappeared on the night of the murders, even though Hobbs denies it.

Jo Lynn McAughey, Stevie's aunt, said she saw Hobbs doing laundry that night—perhaps, the filmmakers suggest, to clean the mud off his clothes after killing the boys in the woods. She also found Stevie's pocket knife, which the boy always kept with him, among Hobbs's belongings. Hobbs says he took it off Stevie earlier that day because he didn't think it wise to let an eight-year-old carry a knife around.

Recently, three young men came forward to say they once heard Hobbs's nephew say that Hobbs was guilty of the crime. The Hobbs clan, these witnesses swear, refer to it as a "family secret."

Other evidence is even more circumstantial. In the film, Judy Sadler, another of Stevie's aunts, says of Hobbs: "There's always been something that creeped me out about him." Sadler is then allowed to claim that Hobbs would make Stevie watch him masturbate, and that he also molested Stevie's sister, Amanda. For her part, a tearful Amanda, now going through therapy, said she can't recall ever being sexually abused by Hobbs.

At one point, the filmmakers attempt to construct a motive for the crime. Stevie's mother, Pam Hobbs, who was married to Terry at the time, says she was told that he was jealous of how much attention she gave to her son compared to how much she gave him.

The filmmakers decide not only what evidence the audience gets to see, but also how it should be interpreted: They supplement their version of the facts with evocative music, close-ups of Hobbs's shifty eyes, and excerpts of his evasive responses.

Is this mixture of facts, conjecture, and speculation enough to prove Hobbs guilty? How much of this evidence would hold up in court? How much would withstand interrogation? How much wouldn't even be admitted in the first place? How much is reliant on faulty memories?

Unless Hobbs actually goes on trial, we won't ever know. But the filmmakers aren't answerable to a judge or jury.

In Jackson's mind, the courts have already failed. For him, then, film is a viable surrogate for justice, and he is the self-appointed producer-prosecutor. The creators of West of Memphis decide not only what evidence the audience gets to see, but also how it should be interpreted. In aid of their cause, they supplement their version of the facts with evocative music, close-ups of Hobbs's shifty eyes, excerpts of his evasive responses to tough questions about his past, and smears from people who have reason to dislike him independent of any suspicion about the murders.

One scene shows John Mark Byers, the stepfather of another of the murdered boys, taunting Hobbs outside a courtroom. In front of the news cameras, Byers calls Hobbs a "baby killer." It is a telling moment. Byers, a figure with his own criminal past and a love for the camera, was once held up as a prime suspect by the West Memphis Three's supporters and by Damien Echols himself. Between the first Paradise Lost film and the second, Byers's wife Melissa died. The second Paradise Lost, subtitled Revelations, allows the Three's supporters to suggest the possibility that he killed both her and the kids. In an interview for the film, Echols supported the notion.

"I can't understand why exactly people are glossing over the obvious when it comes to Byers and the death of Melissa Byers and all the things that Byers has said and done since this trial," says Echols from jail. "I think maybe for the general public it's not quite as scary to believe that blood-thirsty Satanists were out murdering children as it is to believe that parents are actually murdering their own children."

Byers was later cleared, and he and Echols forgave each other. Despite his error in accusing Byers of the crime, however, Echols is now complicit in yet more finger-pointing. He served as a producer for West of Memphis and has helped promote the film. The purported victim of a miscarriage of justice doesn't seem to appreciate West of Memphis's unsettling irony.

***

To be sure, Peter Jackson, Amy Berg, and Fran Walsh's efforts to exonerate the West Memphis Three have been nothing short of extraordinary. They've enlisted private investigators, forensic pathologists, and defense lawyers, none of which would have come cheap. Yet while their quest for justice is admirable, with West of Memphis, they have overstepped.

In Jackson's court, the only witness allowed to speak in support of Terry Hobbs is his sister, Cindy Hobbs. "I feel like my brother's getting a bad rap," Cindy says in the film, "and somebody needs to say something."

Until recently, Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were the ones who got the bad rap in this complicated and confounding case. For them, somebody eventually said something. Now, guilty or not, it's Terry Hobbs who could use some powerful allies.

Источник: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/02/the-unsettling-recklessness-of-peter-jacksons-west-of-memphis/273243/

Reward in West Memphis 3 Case Jumps to $200,000 for New Information Leading to Arrest and Conviction of Those Responsible

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Contact: Lonnie Soury (212) 414.5857, (917) 519.452 [email protected]

Embargoed For Release: March 14, 2012

CALL CONFIDENTIAL TIP LINE– 501.256.1775

(Arkansas – March 14, 2012) Another anonymous donor has come forward and, as a result, Damien Echols’s defense team has doubled the amount of the reward to $200,000 to find the real killers of the three young boys in the West Memphis 3 case. The donors have chosen to remain anonymous and have placed a time limit on the reward offer. If no direct evidence emerges, the funds will be allocated toward further DNA and investigative efforts.

New Billboards will be posted to promote the $200,000 reward and encourage those with credible information old homes for sale in san antonio contact the confidential tip line as soon as possible. Attorneys for Damien Echols will review all calls and verify the information provided. If you missed that rewarding opportunity, you can still get on in the action by getting no deposit bonuses and guides on how to make your usage more efficient. On the link provided you will learn everything you need to know about casino bonuses, so go ahead and change your luck by yourself.

All credible evidence will be turned over to Scott Ellington, District Prosecutor, who has said that he will review evidence presented to him from Echols’s defense team.

Little Rock attorney Patrick Benca said, “We are encouraged by the response to the original reward offer and have received some very important leads as to who may have killed these three little boys. Now that another supporter has stepped forward to pledge even more reward money, we feel confident that we will get to credit one bank mail payment bottom of this case. Those with information should not waste any time if they are interested in obtaining the reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. We are not looking for theories, but real information that can put the true criminal(s) behind bars.”

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were freed in August 2011, after serving eighteen years in the wrongful conviction murder of the three children in 1993. Their freedom was based upon a plea agreement in which, while maintaining their innocence, the three agreed to an Alford plea. They were released based upon time served. The three, men, who unequivocally claim they are innocent, nevertheless accepted the deal to get out of prison. They have vowed to continue to fight to seek justice in the case and want the real killers to be found.

Capi Peck, founder of Arkansas Take Action, said, “It is time that those who know who committed this terrible crime come forward and provide information that can put this stain on the Arkansas criminal justice system to rest. It is just the right thing to do now. We do not intend to stop until those responsible are brought to justice, and those who spent half their lives imprisoned are exonerated.”

Currently, many movies and games are inspired by real cases like this, with fighters, gangsters, serial killers starring as the main characters. These themes have always been popular on the market, even in the golden age of arcade video games. Why don’t you visit legendzgamer.com, and entertain yourself for long hours with the wide selection of arcade games for free?

Confidential Tip Line 501.256.1775 or send information to PO Box 183, 6834 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, AR 72207. See www.freewestmemphis3.org.

Источник: https://www.freewestmemphis3.org/

West Memphis Three

three men convicted of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, United States

"WM3" redirects here. For other uses, see WM3 (disambiguation).

"Jason Baldwin" redirects here. For the former Australian rules footballer, see Jason Baldwin (footballer).

The West Memphis Three photographed after their arrest in June 1993

The West Memphis Three are three men convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, United States. Damien Echols was sentenced to death, Jessie Misskelley Jr. to life imprisonment plus two 20-year sentences, and Jason Baldwin to life imprisonment. During the trial, the prosecution asserted that the juveniles killed the children as part of a Satanic ritual.[1][2][3]

Due to the dubious nature of the evidence as well as the suspected presence of emotional bias in court, the case generated widespread controversy and was the subject of several documentaries. Celebrities and musicians held fundraisers to support efforts to free the men.[4]

In July 2007, new forensic evidence was presented. A report jointly issued by the state and the defense team stated, "Although most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offenses, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants."

Following a 2010 decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court regarding newly produced DNA evidence and potential juror misconduct, the West Memphis Three negotiated a plea bargain with prosecutors.[5] On August 19, 2011, they entered Alford pleas, which allowed them to assert their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them. Judge David Laser accepted the pleas and sentenced the three to time served. They were released with 10-year suspended sentences, having served 18 years.[6]

The crime

On May 5, 1993, three eight-year-old boys (Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers) were reported missing in West Memphis, Arkansas. The first report to the police was made by Byers' adoptive father, John Mark Byers, around 7:00 pm.[7] The boys were allegedly last seen together by three neighbors, who in affidavits told of seeing them playing together around 6:30 pm the evening they disappeared and seeing Terry Hobbs, Steve Branch's stepfather, calling them to come home.[8] Initial police searches made that night were limited.[9] Friends and neighbors also conducted a search that night, which included a cursory visit to the location where the bodies were later found.[9]

A more thorough police search for the children began around 8:00 am on May 6, led by the Crittenden County Search and Rescue personnel. Searchers canvassed all of West Memphis but focused primarily on Robin Hood Hills, where the boys were reported last seen. Despite a shoulder-to-shoulder search of Robin Hood Hills by a human chain, searchers found no sign of the missing boys.[citation needed]

Around 1:45 pm, juvenile Parole Officer Steve Jones spotted a boy's black shoe floating in a muddy creek that led to a major drainage canal in Robin Hood Hills. A subsequent search of the ditch revealed the bodies of three boys. They had been stripped naked and were hogtied with their own shoelaces, their right ankles tied to their right wrists behind their backs, the same with their left arms and legs. Their clothing was found in the creek, some of it twisted around sticks that had been thrust into the muddy ditch bed.[10] The clothing was mostly turned inside-out; two pairs of the boys' underwear were never recovered. Christopher Byers had lacerations to various parts of his body and mutilation of his scrotum and penis.[11]

The autopsies by forensic pathologist Frank J. Peretti indicated that Byers died of "multiple injuries",[11] while Moore and Branch died of "multiple injuries with drowning".[12][13]

Police initially suspected the boys had been raped;[10] however, later expert testimony disputed this finding. Trace amounts of sperm DNA were found on a pair of pants recovered from the scene. Prosecution experts claim Byers' wounds were the results of a knife attack and that he had been purposely castrated by the murderer; defense experts claim the injuries were most likely the result of post-mortem animal predation. Police believed the boys were assaulted and killed at the location where they were found; critics argued that the assault, at least, was unlikely to have occurred at the creek.

Byers was the only victim with drugs in his system; he was prescribed Ritalin (methylphenidate) in January 1993 as part of treatment of an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.[9] The initial autopsy report describes the drug as Carbamazepine and the dosage at a sub-therapeutic level. His father said Byers may not have taken his prescription on May 5, 1993.[14]

Victims

Grave of Christopher Byers
Memorial for the West Memphis Three victims

Steve Edward Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore were all second graders at Weaver Elementary School. Each had achieved the rank of "Wolf" in the local Cub Scout pack and were best friends.[15]

Steve Edward Branch

Steve Branch was the son of Steven and Pamela Branch, who divorced when he was an infant. His mother was awarded custody and later married Terry Hobbs. Branch was eight years old, 4 ft. 2 tall, weighed 65 lbs, and had blond hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt, and riding a black and red bicycle. He was an honor student. He lived with his mother, Pamela Hobbs, his stepfather, Terry Hobbs, and a four-year-old half-sister, Amanda.[16] Steve Edward Branch is buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Steele, Missouri.

Christopher Mark Byers

Christopher Byers was born to Melissa DeFir and Ricky Murray. His parents divorced when he was four years old; shortly afterward, his mother married John Mark Byers, who adopted the boy. Byers was eight years old, 4 ft. tall, weighed 52 lbs, and had light brown hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, dark shoes, and a white long-sleeved shirt. He lived with his mother, Sharon Melissa Byers, his adoptive father, John Mark Byers, and his stepbrother, Shawn Ryan Clark, aged 13. According to his mother, Christopher was a typical eight-year-old. "He still believed in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus".[16] Christopher Mark Byers is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery East where are the west memphis three today Memphis, Tennessee.

James Michael Moore

Michael Moore was the son of Todd and Dana Moore. He was eight years old, 4 ft. 2 tall, weighed 55 lbs, and had brown hair. He was last seen wearing blue pants, a blue Boy Scouts of America shirt, and an orange and blue Boy Scout hat, and riding a light green bicycle. Moore enjoyed wearing his scout uniform even when he was not at meetings. He was considered the leader of the three. He lived with his parents and his nine-year-old sister, Dawn.[16] James Michael Moore is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park Cemetery in Marion, Arkansas.

Victims memorial

In 1994, a memorial was erected for the three murder victims. The memorial is located in the playground of Weaver Elementary School in West Memphis, where all three victims were second graders at the time of the crime. In May 2013, for the 20th anniversary of the slayings, Weaver Elementary School principal Sheila Grissom raised funds to refurbish the memorial.[17]

Suspects

Baldwin, Echols, and Misskelley

At the time of their arrests, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. was 17 years old, Jason Baldwin was 16 years old, and Damien Echols was 18 years old.[18]

Baldwin and Echols had been previously arrested for vandalism and shoplifting, respectively, and Misskelley had a reputation for his temper and for engaging in fistfights with other teenagers at school. Misskelley and Echols had dropped out of high school; however, Baldwin earned high grades and demonstrated a talent for drawing and sketching, and was encouraged by one of his teachers to study graphic design in college.[9] Echols and Baldwin were close friends, and bonded over their similar tastes in music and fiction, and over their shared distaste for the prevailing cultural climate of West Memphis, situated in the Bible Belt. Baldwin and Echols were acquainted with Misskelley from school, but were not close friends with him.[9]

Echols' family was poor and received frequent visits from social workers, and he rarely attended school. He and a girlfriend had run off and later broken into a trailer during a rain storm; they were arrested, though only Echols was charged with burglary.[9]

Echols spent several months in a mental institution in Arkansas and afterward received "full disability" status from the Social Security Administration.[9] During Echols' trial, Dr. George W. Woods testified (for the defense) that Echols suffered from:

serious mental illness characterized by grandiose and persecutory delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, disordered thought processes, substantial lack of insight, and chronic, incapacitating mood swings.[9]

At his death penalty sentencing hearing, Echols' psychologist reported that months before the murders, Echols had claimed that he obtained super powers by drinking human blood.[19] At the time of his arrest, Echols was working part-time with a roofing company and expecting a child with his girlfriend, Domini Teer.[9]

Chris Morgan and Brian Holland

Early in the investigation, the WMPD briefly regarded two West Memphis teenagers as suspects. Chris Morgan and Brian Holland, both with drug offense histories, had abruptly departed for Oceanside, California, four days after the bodies were discovered.[20] Morgan was presumed to be at least casually familiar with all three murdered boys, having previously driven an ice cream truck route in their neighborhood.

Arrested in Oceanside on May 17, 1993, Morgan and Holland both took polygraph exams administered by California police. Examiners reported that both wells fargo checking account login page charts indicated deception when they denied involvement in the murders. During subsequent questioning, Morgan claimed a long history of drug and alcohol use, along with blackouts and memory lapses. He claimed that he "might have" killed the victims but quickly recanted this part of his statement.[20]

California police sent blood and urine samples from Morgan and Holland to the WMPD, but there is no indication WMPD investigated Morgan or Holland as suspects following their arrest in California. The relevance of Morgan's recanted statement would later be debated in trial, but it was eventually barred from admission as evidence.[20]

"Mr. Bojangles"

The citing of a black male as a possible alternate suspect was implied during the beginning of the Misskelley trial. According to local West Memphis police officers, on the evening of May 5, 1993, at 8:42 pm, workers in the Bojangles' restaurant located about a mile from the crime scene in Robin Hood Hills reported seeing a black male who seemed "mentally disoriented" inside the restaurant's ladies' room. The man was bleeding and had brushed against the restroom walls. Officer Regina Meeks responded to the call, taking the restaurant manager's report through the eatery's drive-through window. By then, the man had left, and police did not enter the restroom on that date.[21]

The day after the victims' bodies were found, Bojangles' manager Marty King, thinking there was a possible connection to the bloody man found in the bathroom, reported the incident to police officers who then inspected the ladies' room. King gave the officers a pair of sunglasses he thought the man had left behind, and the detectives took some blood samples from the walls and tiles of the restroom. Police detective Bryn Ridge testified that he later lost those blood scrapings. A hair identified as belonging to a black male was later recovered from a sheet wrapped around one of the victims.[21]

Investigation

Evidence and interviews

Police officers James Sudbury and Steve Jones felt that the crime had "cult" overtones, and that Damien Echols might be a suspect because he had an interest in occultism, and Jones felt Echols was capable of murdering children.[10] The police interviewed Echols on May 7, two days after the bodies were discovered.[10] During a polygraph examination, he denied any involvement. The polygraph examiner claimed that Echols' chart indicated deception.[9] On May 9, during a formal interview by Detective Bryn Ridge, Echols mentioned that one of the victims had wounds to the genitals; law enforcement viewed this knowledge as incriminating.[10]

After a month had passed with little progress in the case, police continued to focus their investigation upon Echols, interrogating him more frequently than any other person. Nonetheless, they claimed he was not regarded as a direct suspect but a source of information.[9]

On June 3, the police interrogated Jessie Misskelley, Jr. Despite his reported IQ of 72 (categorizing him as borderline intellectual functioning) and his status as a minor, Miskelley what is an online id bank of america questioned alone; his parents were not present during the interrogation.[3][9] Misskelley's father gave permission for Misskelley to go with police but did not explicitly give permission for his son to be questioned or interrogated.[9] Misskelley was questioned for roughly 12 hours. Only two segments, totaling 46 minutes, were recorded.[22] Misskelley quickly recanted his confession, citing intimidation, coercion, fatigue, and veiled threats from police.[3][9] Misskelley specifically said he was "scared of the police" during this confession.[23]

Though he was informed of his Miranda rights, Misskelley later claimed he did not fully understand them.[9] In 1996, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Misskelley's confession was voluntary and that he did, in fact, understand the Miranda warning and its consequences.[24] Portions of Misskelley's statements to the police were leaked to the press and reported on the front page of the Memphis Commercial Appeal before any of the trials began.[9]

Shortly after Misskelley's first confession, police arrested Echols and his close friend Baldwin. Eight months after his original confession, on February 17, 1994, Misskelley made another statement to police. His lawyer, Dan Stidham, remained in the room and continually advised Misskelley not to say anything. Misskelley ignored this advice and went on to detail how the boys were abused and murdered. Stidham, who was later elected to a municipal judgeship, has written a detailed critique[citation needed] of what he asserts are major police errors and misconceptions during their investigation. Stidham made similar comments during a radio show interview in May 2010.[25]

Vicki Hutcheson

Vicki Hutcheson, a new resident of West Memphis, would play an important role in the investigation, though she would later recant her testimony, claiming her statements were fabricated due in part to coercion from police.[9][26]

On May 6, 1993 (before the victims were found later the same day), Hutcheson took a polygraph exam by Detective Don Bray at the Marion Police Department, to determine whether or not she had stolen money from her West Memphis employer. Hutcheson's young son, Aaron, was also present, and proved such a distraction that Bray was unable to administer the polygraph. Aaron, a playmate of the murdered boys', mentioned to Bray that the boys had been killed at "the playhouse." When the geico home insurance usa proved to have been discovered near where Aaron indicated, Bray asked Aaron for further details, and Aaron claimed that he had witnessed the murders committed by Satanists who spoke Spanish. Aaron's further statements were wildly inconsistent, and he was unable to identify Baldwin, Echols, or Misskelley from photo line-ups, and there was no "playhouse" at the location Aaron indicated. A police officer leaked portions of Aaron's statements to the press contributing to the growing belief that the murders were part of a Satanic rite.[citation needed]

On or about June 1, 1993, Hutcheson agreed to police suggestions to place hidden microphones in her home during an encounter with Echols. Misskelley agreed to introduce Hutcheson to Echols. During their conversation, Hutcheson reported that Echols made no incriminating statements. Police said the recording was "inaudible", but Hutcheson claimed the recording was audible. On June 2, 1993, Hutcheson told police that about two weeks after the murders were committed, she, Echols, and Misskelley attended a Wiccan meeting in Turrell, Arkansas. Hutcheson claimed that, at the Wiccan meeting, a drunken Echols openly bragged about killing the three boys. Misskelley was first questioned on June 3, 1993, a day after Hutcheson's purported confession. Hutcheson was unable to recall the Wiccan meeting location and did not name any other participants in the purported meeting. Hutcheson was never charged with theft. She claimed she had implicated Echols and Misskelley to avoid facing criminal charges, and to obtain a reward bermuda real estate for sale the discovery of the murderers.[3]

Trials

Misskelley was tried separately, and Echols and Baldwin were tried together in 1994. Under the "Bruton rule", Misskelley's confession could not be admitted against his co-defendants; thus he was tried separately. All three defendants pleaded not guilty.[27]

Misskelley's trial

During Misskelley's trial, Richard Ofshe, an expert on false confessions and police coercion, and Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, testified that the brief recording of Misskelley's interrogation was a "classic example" of police coercion.[28] Critics have also stated that Misskelley's various "confessions" were in many respects inconsistent with each other, as well as with the particulars of the crime scene and murder victims, including (for example) an "admission" that Misskelley watched Damien rape one of the boys.[29] Police had initially suspected that the victims had been raped because their anuses were dilated. However, there was no forensic evidence indicating that the murdered boys had been raped. Dilation of the anus is a normal post-mortem condition.[9]

On February 5, 1994, Misskelley was convicted by a jury of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.[30] The court sentenced him to life plus 40 years in prison.[31] His conviction was appealed, but the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.[32]

Echols' and Baldwin's trial

Three weeks later, Echols and Baldwin went on trial. The prosecution accused the three young men of committing a Satanic murder. The prosecution called Dale W. Griffis, a graduate of the unaccredited Columbia Pacific University, as an expert in the occult to testify the murders were a Satanic ritual.[33] On March 19, 1994, Echols and Baldwin were found guilty on three counts of murder.[34] The court sentenced Echols to death and Baldwin to life in prison.[3]

At trial, the defense team argued that news articles from the time could have been the source for Echols' knowledge about the genital mutilation, and Echols said his knowledge was limited to what was "on TV".

The prosecution claimed that Echols' knowledge was nonetheless too close to the facts, since there was no public reporting of drowning or that one victim had been mutilated more than the others. Echols testified that Detective Ridge's description of their earlier conversation (which was not recorded) regarding those particular details was inaccurate (and indeed that some other claims by Ridge were "lies"). Mara Leveritt, an investigative journalist and the author of Devil's Knot, argues that Echols' information may have come from police leaks, such as Detective Gitchell's comments to Mark Byers, that circulated amongst the local public.[9][28] The defense team objected when the prosecution attempted to question Echols about his past violent behaviors, but the defense objections were overruled.[35]

Aftermath

Criticism of the investigation

There has been widespread criticism of how the police handled the crime scene.[9] Misskelley's former attorney Dan Stidham cites multiple substantial police errors at the crime scene, characterizing it as "literally trampled, especially the creek bed." The bodies, he said, had been removed from the water before the coroner arrived to examine the scene and determine the state of rigor mortis, allowing the bodies to decay on the creek bank and to be exposed to sunlight and insects. The police did not telephone the coroner until almost two hours after the discovery of the floating shoe, resulting in a late appearance by the coroner. Officials amazon fresh not delivering to drain the creek in a timely manner and secure possible evidence in the water (the creek was sandbagged after the bodies were pulled from the water).

Stidham calls the coroner's investigation "extremely substandard." There was a small amount of blood found at the scene that was never tested. According to HBO's documentaries Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000), no blood was found at the crime scene, indicating that the location where the bodies were found was not necessarily the location where the murders actually happened. After the initial investigation, the police failed to control disclosure of information and speculation about the crime scene.[36]

According to Leveritt, "Police records were a mess. To call them disorderly would be putting it mildly."[9] Leveritt speculated that the small local police force was overwhelmed by the crime, which was unlike any they had ever investigated. Police refused an unsolicited offer of aid and consultation from the violent crimes experts of the Arkansas State Police, and critics suggested this was due to the WMPD's being under investigation by the Arkansas State Police for suspected theft from the Crittenden County drug task force.[9] Leveritt further noted that some of the physical evidence was stored in paper sacks obtained from a supermarket (with the supermarket's name printed on the bags) rather than in containers of known and controlled origin.

When police speculated about the assailant, the juvenile probation officer assisting at the scene of the murders speculated that Echols was "capable" of committing the murders," stating: "it looks like Damien Echols finally killed someone."[9]

Brent Turvey, a forensic scientist and criminal profiler, stated in the film Paradise Lost 2 that human bite marks could have been left on at least one of the victims. However, these potential bite marks were first noticed in photographs years after the trials and were not inspected by a board-certified medical examiner until four years after the murders. The defense's expert testified that the mark in question was not an adult bite mark, while experts put on by the State concluded that there was no bite mark at all.[37] The State's experts had examined the actual bodies for any marks, and others conducted expert photo analysis of injuries. Upon further examination, it was concluded that if these marks were bite marks, they did not match the teeth of any of the three convicted.[38][n 1]

Appeals and new evidence

In May 1994, the three defendants appealed their convictions;[40] the convictions were upheld on direct appeal.[24][41] In June 1996, Misskelley's lawyer, Dan Stidham, was preparing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.[42]

In 2007, Echols petitioned for a retrial, based on a statute permitting post-conviction testing of DNA evidence due to technological advances made since 1994 which might provide exoneration for the wrongfully convicted.[43] However, the original trial judge, Judge David Burnett, disallowed presentation of this information in his court. This ruling was in turn thrown out by the Arkansas Supreme Court as to all three defendants on November 4, 2010.[44]

John Mark Byers' knife (1993)

John Mark Byers, the adoptive father of victim Christopher Byers, gave a knife to cameraman Doug Cooper, who was working with documentary makers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky while filming the first Paradise Lost feature. The knife was a folding hunting knife manufactured by Kershaw. According to the statements given by Berlinger and Sinofsky, Cooper informed them of his receipt of the knife on December 19, 1993. After the documentary crew returned to New York, Berlinger and Sinofsky were reported to have discovered what appeared to be blood on the knife. HBO executives ordered them to return the knife to the West Memphis Police Department. The knife was not received at the West Memphis Police Department until January 8, 1994.

Byers initially claimed the knife had never been used. However, after blood was found on the knife, Byers stated that he had used it only once, to cut deer meat. When told the blood matched both his and Chris' blood type, Byers said he had no idea how that blood might have gotten where are the west memphis three today the knife. During interrogation, West Memphis police suggested to Byers that he might have left the knife out accidentally, and Byers agreed with this.[9] Byers later stated that he may have cut his thumb. Further testing of the knife produced inconclusive results about the source of the blood. Uncertainty remained due to the small amount of blood[9] and because both John Mark Byers and Chris Byers had the same HLA-DQα genotype.

Byers agreed to and passed a polygraph test about the murders during the filming of Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, but the documentary indicated that Byers was under the influence of several psychoactive prescriptionmedications that could have affected the test results.

Possible teeth imprints (1996–1997)

Following their convictions, Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin submitted imprints of their teeth. These were compared to the alleged bite marks on Stevie Branch's forehead that had not been mentioned in the original autopsy or trial. No matches were found.[45] John Mark Byers had his teeth removed in 1997, after the first trial but before an imprint could be made. His stated reasons for the removal are apparently contradictory. He has claimed both that the seizure medication he was taking caused periodontal disease, and that he planned the removal because of other kinds of dental problems which had troubled him for years.[46]

After an expert examined autopsy photos and noted what he thought might be the imprint of a belt buckle on Byers' corpse, the elder Byers revealed to the police that he had spanked his stepson shortly before the boy disappeared.[9]

Vicki Hutcheson's recantation (2003)

In October 2003, Vicki Hutcheson, who had played a part in the arrests of Misskelley, Echols, and Baldwin, how do subscription boxes make money an interview to the Arkansas Times in which she stated that every word she had given to the police was a fabrication.[47] She further asserted that the police had implied that if she did not cooperate with them they would take away her child.[47] She said that when she visited the police station, employees had photographs of Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley on the wall and were using them as dart targets.[47] She also claims that an audiotape the police said was "unintelligible" (and that they eventually lost) was perfectly clear and contained no incriminating statements.[47]

DNA testing and new physical evidence (2007)

In 2007, DNA collected from the crime scene was tested. None was found to match DNA from Echols, Baldwin, or Misskelley. A hair "not inconsistent with" Stevie Branch's stepfather, Terry Hobbs, was found tied into the knots used to bind one of the victims.[48] The prosecutors, while conceding that no DNA evidence tied the accused to the crime scene, said: "The State stands behind its convictions of Echols and his codefendants."[49] Pamela Hobbs' May 5, 2009 declaration in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division indicates that "one hair was consistent with the hair of [Terry's] friend, David Jacoby" (Point 16), and:[50]

17. Additionally, after the Murders my sister Jo Lynn McCauhey and I found in Terry's nightstand a knife that Stevie carried with him constantly and which I had believed was with him when he died. It was a pocket knife that my father had given to Stevie, and Stevie loved that knife. I had been shocked that the police did not find it with Stevie when they found his body. I had always assumed that my son's murderer had taken the knife during the crime. I could not believe it was in Terry's things. He had never told me that he had it.

18. Also, my sister Jo Lynn told me that she saw Terry wash clothes, bed linens and curtains from Stevie's room at an odd time around the time of the Murders.

19. There was additional new evidence discovered in 2007 that I cannot now recall.

Foreman and jury misconduct (2008)

In July 2008, it was revealed that Kent Arnold, the jury foreman on the Echols-Baldwin trial, had discussed the case with an attorney prior to the beginning of deliberations. Arnold was accused of advocating for the guilt of the West Memphis Three and sharing knowledge of inadmissible evidence, like the Jessie Misskelley statements, with other jurors.[51] At the time, legal experts agreed that this issue could result in the reversal of the convictions of Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols.[51]

In September 2008, attorney (now judge) Daniel Stidham, who represented Misskelley in 1994, testified at a postconviction relief hearing. Stidham testified under oath that during the trial, Judge David Burnett erred by making an improper communication with the jury during its deliberations. Stidham overheard Judge Burnett discuss taking a lunch break with the jury foreman and heard the foreman reply that the jury was almost finished. He testified Judge Burnett responded, "You'll need food for when you come back for sentencing," and that the foreman asked in return what would happen if the defendant was acquitted. Stidham said the judge closed the door without answering. He testified that his own failure to put this incident on the court record and his failure to meet the minimum requirements in state law to represent a defendant in a capital murder case was evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel and that Misskelley's conviction should therefore be vacated.[52]

Request for retrial (2007–2010)

On October 29, 2007, papers were filed in federal court by Echols's defense lawyers seeking a retrial or his immediate release from prison. The filing cited DNA evidence linking Terry Hobbs (stepfather of one of the victims) to the crime scene, and new statements from Hobbs' now ex-wife. Also presented in the filing was new expert testimony that the supposed knife marks on the victims, including the injuries to Byers' genitals, were in fact the result of animal predation after the bodies had been dumped.[53]

On September 10, 2008, Circuit Court Judge David Burnett denied the request for a retrial, citing the DNA tests as inconclusive.[54] That ruling was appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the case on September 30, 2010.

Arkansas Supreme Court ruling (2010)

On November 4, 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a lower judge to consider whether newly analyzed DNA evidence might exonerate the three.[55] The justices also instructed the lower court to examine claims of misconduct by the jurors who sentenced Damien Echols to death and Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin to life in prison.[55]

In early December 2010, David Burnett was elected to the Arkansas State Senate. Circuit Court Judge David Laser was selected to replace David Burnett and preside in the evidentiary hearings mandated by the successful appeal.[56]

Plea deal and release (2011)

After weeks of negotiations, on August 19, 2011, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released from prison as part of a plea deal, making the hearings ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court unnecessary.[57] The three entered into unusual Alford plea deals. The Alford plea is a legal mechanism that allows defendants to plead guilty while still asserting their actual innocence, in cases where defendants santander logo that prosecutors have sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Stephen Braga, an attorney with Ropes & Gray who took up Echols's defense on a pro bono basis beginning in 2009, negotiated the plea agreement with prosecutors.[58]

Under the deal, Judge David Laser vacated the previous convictions, including the capital murder convictions for Echols and Baldwin, and ordered a new trial. Each man then entered an Alford plea to lesser charges of first- and second-degree murder while verbally stating their innocence. Judge Laser then sentenced them to time served, a total of 18 years and 78 days, and they were each given a suspended imposition of sentence for 10 years.[57] If they re-offend they can be sent back to prison for 21 years.[6]

Factors cited by prosecutor Scott Ellington for agreeing to the plea deal included that two of the victims' families had joined the cause of the defense, that the mother of a witness who testified about Echols's confession had questioned her daughter's truthfulness, and that the State Crime Lab employee who collected fiber evidence at the Echols and Baldwin homes after their arrests had died.[59] As part of the plea deal, the three men cannot pursue civil action against the state for wrongful imprisonment.[60]

Many of the men's supporters, and opponents who still believe them guilty, were unhappy with the unusual plea deal.[61] In 2011, supporters pushed Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe to pardon Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley based on their innocence. Beebe said he would deny the request unless there was evidence showing someone else committed the murders.[62] Prosecutor Scott Ellington said the Arkansas state crime laboratory would help seek other suspects by running searches on any DNA evidence produced in private laboratory tests during the defense team's investigation. This would include running the results through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System database.[63] Ellington said that, although he still considered the men guilty, the three would likely be acquitted if a new trial were held because of the powerful legal counsel representing them now, the loss of evidence over time, and the change of heart among some of the witnesses.[57]

Family and law enforcement opinions

The families of the three victims are divided in their opinions as to the guilt or innocence of the West Memphis Three. In 2000, the biological father of Christopher Byers, Rick Murray, expressed his doubts about the guilty verdicts on the West Memphis Three website.[64] In 2007, Pamela Hobbs, the mother of victim Stevie Branch, joined those who have publicly questioned the verdicts, calling for a reopening of the verdicts and further investigation of the evidence.[65] In late 2007, John Mark Byers—who was previously vehement in his belief that Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin were guilty—also announced that he now believes that they are innocent.[66] "I had made the comment if it were ever proven the three were innocent, I'd be the first to lead the charge for their freedom," said Byers, and take "every opportunity that I have to voice that the West Memphis Three are innocent and the evidence and proof prove they're innocent."[67] Byers has spoken to the media on behalf of the convicted, and has expressed his desire for justice for the families of both the victims and the three accused.[67]

In 2010, district Judge Brian S. Miller ordered Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Stevie Branch, to pay $17,590 to Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines for legal costs stemming from a defamation lawsuit he filed against the band. Miller dismissed a suit Hobbs filed over Maines' remarks and writings implying that he was involved in killing his stepson. The judge said Hobbs had chosen to involve himself in public discussion over whether the convictions were just.[68]

John E. Douglas, a former longtime FBI agent and current criminal profiler, said that the murders were more indicative of a single murderer intent on degrading and punishing the victims, than of a trio of "unsophisticated" teenagers.[69] Douglas believed that the perpetrator had a violent history and was familiar with the victims and with local geography. Douglas was formerly FBI Unit Chief for 25 years of the Investigative Support Unit of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. He stated in his report for Echols's legal team that there was no evidence the murders were linked to satanic rituals and that post-mortem animal predation could explain the alleged knife injuries. He said that the victims had died from a combination of blunt force trauma and drowning, in a crime which he believed was driven by personal cause.[70]

Documentaries, publications and studies

Three films, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, have documented this case and are strongly critical of the verdict. The films marked the first time Metallica allowed their music to be used in a movie, which drew attention to the case.[71]

There have been a number of books about the case, also arguing that the suspects were wrongly convicted: Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt; Blood of Innocents by Guy Reel; and The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three, edited by Brett Alexander Savory & M. W. Anderson, and featuring dark fiction and non-fiction by well-known writers of speculative fiction. In 2005, Damien Echols completed his memoir, Almost Home, Vol 1, offering his perspective of the case.[72] A biography of John Mark Byers by Greg Day named Untying the Knot: John Mark Byers and the West Memphis Three was published in May 2012.[73]

Many songs were written about the case, and two albums released in support of the defendants. In 2000, The album Free the West Memphis 3 was released by KOCH Records. Organized by Eddie Spaghetti of the band Supersuckers, the album featured a number of original songs about the case and other recordings by artists such as Steve Earle, Tom Waits, L7, and Joe Strummer. In 2002, Henry Rollins worked with other vocalists from various rock, hip hop, punk and metal groups and members of Black Flag and the Rollins Band on the compilation album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. All money raised from sales of the album are donated to the legal funds of the West Memphis Three. Metalcore band Zao's 2002 album Parade of Chaos included a track inspired by the case named "Free The Three". On April 28, 2011, the band Disturbed released a song entitled "3" as a download on their website. The song is about the West Memphis Three, with 100% of the proceeds going to their benefit foundation for their release.[74]

A website by Martin David Hill, containing approximately 160,000 words and intending to be a "thorough investigation", collates and discusses many details surrounding the murders and investigation, including some anecdotal information.[75]

Investigative journalist Aphrodite Jones undertook an exploration of the case on her Discovery Network show True Crime With Aphrodite Jones following the DNA discoveries. The episode premiered May 5, 2011, with extensive background information included on the show's page at the Investigation Discovery site. In August 2011, White Light Productions announced that the West Memphis Three would be featured on their new program Wrongfully Convicted.[76]

In January 2010, the CBS television news journal 48 Hours aired "The Memphis 3", an in-depth coverage of the history of the case including interviews with Echols and supporters. On September 17, 2011, 48 Hours re-aired the episode with the update of their release and interviews garnier skin active bb cream medium deep Echols and his wife, and Baldwin. Piers Morgan Tonight aired an episode on September 29, 2011, about the three's plans for the future and continued investigations on the case.[77]

West of Memphis, directed and written by Amy J. Berg, and produced by Peter Jackson, as well as by Echols himself, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Actor Johnny Depp, a longtime supporter of the West Memphis Three and personal friend of Damien Echols, was on hand to support the film in its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.[78]

Atom Egoyan directed a dramatized feature film of the case, titled Devil's Knot, released in U.S. theaters on May 9, 2014. The film stars Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.[79]

Defendants

Jessie Misskelley

Jessie Misskelley Jr. (born July 10, 1975) was arrested in connection to the murders of May 5, 1993. After a reported 12 hours of interrogation by police, Misskelley, who has an IQ of 72, confessed to the murders, and implicated Baldwin and Echols. However, the confession was at odds with facts known by police, such as the time of the murders.[6][57] Under the "Bruton rule", his confession could not be admitted against his co-defendants and thus he was tried separately. Misskelley was convicted by a jury of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. The court sentenced him to life plus 40 years in prison. His conviction was appealed and affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court.[80]

On August 19, 2011, Misskelley, along with Baldwin and Echols, entered an Alford plea. Judge David Laser then sentenced them to 18 years and 78 days, the amount of time they had served, and also levied a suspended sentence of 10 years. All three were released from prison that same day.[57] Since his release, Misskelley has become engaged to his high school girlfriend and enrolled in a community college to train as an auto mechanic.

Charles Jason Baldwin

Charles Jason Baldwin[81] (born April 11, 1977) along with Misskelley and Echols, entered an Alford plea on August 19, 2011.[6] Baldwin pleaded guilty to three counts of first degree murder while still asserting his actual innocence. The judge then sentenced the three men to 18 years and 78 days, the amount of time they had served, and also levied a suspended sentence of 10 years.

Baldwin was initially resistant to agree to this deal, insisting as a matter of principle that he would not plead guilty to something he did not do. But, he said, his refusal would have meant that Echols stayed on death row. "This was not justice," he said of the deal. "However, they're trying to kill Damien."[57] Since his release, Baldwin has moved to Seattle to live with friends. He is in a relationship with a woman who befriended him while he was in prison. He has stated that he plans on enrolling in college to become a lawyer national financial partners investor relations order to help wrongfully convicted persons prove their innocence.[82] Baldwin said in a 2011 interview with Piers Morgan that he worked for a construction company and he was learning how to drive.[77]

Damien Wayne Echols

Damien Wayne Echols (born Michael Wayne Hutchison,[83] December 11, 1974) was on death row, locked-down 23 hours per day at the Varner Unit Supermax.[3] On August 19, 2011, Echols, along with Baldwin and Misskelley, was released from prison after their attorneys and the judge handling the upcoming retrial agreed to a deal. Under the terms of the Alford guilty plea, Echols and his co-defendants accepted the sufficiency of evidence supporting the three counts of first degree murder while maintaining their innocence. DNA evidence at the scene was not found to include any from Echols or his co-defendants.[84]

Echols, ADC# 000931, entered the system on March 19, 1994.[85] Until August 2011, he was incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) Varner Unit Supermax.[85][86] In prison in 1999, he married landscape architect Lorri Davis. He moved to New York City after his release.[87]

Appeal

Echols' mental stability during the years immediately prior to the murders and during his trial was the focus of his appellate legal team in their appeal attempts. In his efforts to win a new trial, Echols, 27 at the time of the appeal, claimed he was incompetent to stand trial because of a history of mental illness. The record on appeal spells out a long history of Echols' mental health problems, including a May 5, 1992, Arkansas Department of Youth Services referral for possible mental illness, a year to the day before the murders.[88] Hospital records for his treatment in Little Rock 11 months before the killings show a history of self-mutilation and assertions to hospital staff that he gained power by drinking blood, that he amazon driver pay inside him the spirit of a woman who had killed her husband, and that he was having hallucinations. He also told mental health workers that he was "going to influence the world."[88]

The appellate legal team argued that Echols did not waive his assertion that he was not mentally competent before his 1994 trial because he was not competent to waive it. To assist in the appeals process, Echols' appellate legal team retained a Berkeley, California-based forensic psychiatrist, Dr. George Woods, to make their case.[89]

Echols' lawyers claimed that his condition worsened during the trial, when he developed a "psychotic euphoria that caused him to believe he would evolve into a superior entity" and eventually be transported to a different world. His psychosis dominated his perceptions of everything going on in court, Woods wrote.[88] Echols's mental state while in prison awaiting trial was also called into question by his appellate team.[citation needed]

Retrial request

While in prison, Echols wrote letters to Gloria Shettles, an investigator for his defense team.[90] Echols sought to overturn his conviction based on trial error, including juror misconduct, as well as the results of a DNA Status Report filed on July 17, 2007, which concluded "none of the genetic material recovered at the scene of the crimes was attributable to Mr. Echols, Echols' co-defendant, Jason Baldwin, or defendant Jessie Misskelley . Although most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offenses, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants."[91] Advanced DNA and other scientific evidence – combined with additional evidence from several different witnesses and experts – released in October 2007 had cast strong doubts on the original convictions. A hearing on Echols' petition for a writ of habeas corpus was held in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.[92]

Release

On August 19, 2011, Echols, along with Baldwin and Misskelley, entered an Alford plea, while asserting their innocence.[6] The judge sentenced them to 18 years and 78 days, the amount of time they had served, and levied a suspended sentence of 10 years. Echols' sentence was reduced to three counts of first degree murder. Lawyers representing the West Memphis Three reached the plea deal that allowed the men to be released from prison. They were transferred to the hearing with their possessions. The plea deal did not technically result in a full exoneration; some of the convictions would stand, but the men would not admit guilt. The counsel representing the men said they would continue to pursue full exoneration.[57]

Aftermath

Echols relocated to Salem, Massachusetts with his wife and has no intentions of returning to Arkansas. In an interview with Piers Morgan, he said that he would like to have a career in writing and visual arts.[93]

Echols self-published the memoir, Almost Home: My Life Story Vol. 1 (2005), while still in prison.[94] After his release, he has worked on a number of additional media projects.

Music
Art
  • Echols began creating art while on death row as a "side effect of my spiritual, magical practice."[97] The Copro Gallery in Los Angeles exhibited Echols' artwork (March 19 – April 16, 2016).[98] The focus of the exhibit, titled 'SALEM,' draws attention to the comparison between the historical U.S. Salem witch trials and Echols' own experience during a modern-day U.S. witch-hunt known for false accusations of Satanic ritual abuse.
  • On March 23, 2016, Echols gave a presentation about his art processes at the Rubin Museum of Art.[99]
Spoken word
  • The transcript of Echols' spoken word performance in The Moth is included in a written compilation of 50 stories from the show's archives, published in 2013.[100]
Written works
  • Punk musician Michale Graves, formerly of The Misfits, has written music to coincide with Echols' poetry.
  • Echols' poetry has appeared in the Porcupine Literary Arts magazine (Volume 8, Issue 2).
  • He has written non-fiction for the Arkansas Literary Forum.[101]
  • Since his release, he has published a non-fiction book about both his childhood and incarceration, Life After Death (2012), which includes material from his 2005 memoir.[102]
  • He and Lorri Davis, a NYC landscape architect who initiated a correspondence with Echols in 1999 and ultimately became his wife, co-authored Yours for Eternity: A Love Story on Death Row (2014)[103]
Television

See also

Notes

  1. ^In 2011, Echols would reflect that, should investigators attempt to proceed to trial with where are the west memphis three today same evidence compiled in 1993 and with the external scrutiny which had not then existed, he and his co defendants would not have been brought to trial, stating: "They knew that there would be more people watching this, more attention on this case. They wouldn't be able to pull the same tricks. Basically, when we went to trial the first time, they came in with ghost stories, rumors, innuendo. Really, things that had nothing to do with the case whatsoever."[39]

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Источник: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Memphis_Three

'West Memphis Three' Walk Free: Will They Clear Their Names?

Aug. 20, 2011— -- The so-called "West Memphis Three" say they will continue to fight to get their names fully cleared -- only now they can do it from the outside.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley, Jr. -- who served 18 years for the 1993 deaths of three 8-year-old boys from West Memphis, Ark., are walking free today after the defense presented new DNA evidence that could challenge their convictions.

"I'm just tired," Misskelley said at a news conference Friday. "This has been going on for 18 years. It's been an absolute living hell."

Their freedom comes after they entered a plea deal requiring them to where are the west memphis three today guilty in order to walk free.

A judge accepted the plea deal Friday that allowed the men to maintain their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them.

"I won't tell you it's a perfect resolution," said Stephen Braga, one of the defense attorneys for Damien Echols told "Nightline." "It's the best possible resolution under the circumstances."

Echols was sitting on death row.

"This was not justice," Baldwin said. "In the beginning we told nothing but the truth. We were innocent, and they sent us to prison for the rest of our lives."

Prosecutor Scott Ellington said Friday that "the case is closed," despite his firm belief that the West Memphis Three are guilty.

"I have no reason to believe that there was anyone else involved in the homicide of those three children," other than those three defendants, he said.

Despite being set free Friday, the West Memphis Three may never see their names actually cleared.

ABC legal analyst Dan Abrams said there would have likely been a new trial and that would have created a challenge for prosecutors.

"They would've then had to go back with witnesses who recanted their testimony, DNA evidence which pointed to someone else," Abrams said. "I think the prosecutors knew it was going to be a very, very tough road for them if there was a new trial and as a result they said, 'you know what, we don't want to admit that we got it wrong, we aren't saying we got it wrong, but we also don't want to have a new trial.'"

The victims -- Christopher Byers, Steven Branch and James Michael Moore -- were found naked, beaten and hogtied in a drainage ditch. They had been sexually abused and one of the boys had been partially castrated.

Echols, who was 19 at the time, was considered the mastermind and given the death penalty.

Baldwin, 16 at the time, and Misskelley, 17, were sentenced to life in prison, plus 40 years. The prosecution had claimed the murders were part of a satanic ritual.

Police officers also extracted a confession from Misskelley, which was not admitted at trial. Misskelley, who is mentally challenged, retracted the confession within days.

The stepfather of one of the murdered boys was outside the Jonesboro, Ark., courthouse Friday angrily protesting the possible deal, but not for the reason one might expect. He's convinced of the innocence of the West Memphis Three and is passionately arguing that they should not have to make a deal with the state in order to go free.

He is also repeatedly naming the man he believes to be the real killer of the three boys.

Another father, Steve Branch, is angry, too. But he still believes the West Memphis Three are guilty and wonders why, if they pled no contest to the murders, they are being released.

The defense has named Terry Hobbs, who is a stepfather of one of the victims, as a potential new suspect.

His DNA was matched to a hair found on the shoelaces used to tie the boys before they were dumped in a ditch. Hobbs, who was questioned early on, denies any involvement and has not been named as a suspect.

The judge had two motions in front of him. One motion alleging juror misconduct in the original case and the other dealing with DNA testing results that allegedly excluded the involvement of any of the three in the crime.

Echols' lead attorney, Donald Horgan, said Friday that while it might appear as though celebrity support for the "West Memphis Three" sets the case apart, their story is all too common.

"For every group of defendants like these that ultimately get some attention paid to them, there are 100 who are innocent, who have no legal or financial support," Horgan said.

When the teens were convicted in 1993, he said, they had almost no money to pay for legal help and, as a result, were convicted of a crime they did not commit.

ABC News' Jim Avila and James Hill contributed to this report.

Источник: https://abcnews.go.com/US/west-memphis-walk-free-clear-names/story?id=14346829

In 1993, the lives of three young teenagers — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin — were changed forever when they were convicted of a crime they didn't commit: the brutal murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Almost 20 years behind bars and countless voices of support later, the West Memphis Three are free at last, with their story chronicled in the Peter Jackson-produced documentary "West of Memphis."

Over the years, Echols and his peers found their cause championed by famous faces including Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins and Johnny Depp. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Depp appeared alongside Echols and spoke with MTV News about why the case of the West Memphis Three was something he found himself drawn to.

"I believe it was Henry Rollins, also a longtime supporter and friend of Damien's, who said it, and it's absolutely true: it could have been any of us," Depp said of the circumstances surrounding the West Memphis Three's wrongful imprisonment. "Because, what, you look different? [The authorities] put their eyeball on Damien and didn't take it off, even though everything around them — they didn't look at the insane amount of holes in the case. They just looked at the guy with the black T-shirt and the long black hair. It was a witch hunt."

With Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin finally out of prison, the men, now in their 30s, have a lot of world to catch up to. "Here's a kid who went to prison wrongfully convicted. He went in at the age of 18 and came out at the age of 36. Suddenly you can take photographs with your phone. So much has changed," Depp observed of Echols' current experience. "By the time you came out, it's 'The Jetsons.' It's a whole 'nother world."

Depp said there wasn't much more than "tater-tots, tacos and tattoos" that he could offer Echols upon his release from prison. (To his credit, Echols added "guitar lessons" to the list of gifts he received from Depp.) But it's actually Echols who taught Depp a long list of valuable lessons, the actor said.

"As a friend, I instantly fell in love with this guy. I knew him instantly," said Depp. "I've learned so much from him and his experiences. Not just experiences of living in a tiny concrete room but the experiences from his mind and his strength and his ability to survive in a situation that's nearly impossible."

Check out everything we've got on "West of Memphis."

Источник: http://www.mtv.com/news/1693940/johnny-depp-west-of-memphis/

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Why Everything You Think You Know About The West Memphis Three Case Is Wrong!

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