West Memphis Three Go Free

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In a major turn of events, an Arkansas judge today freed three men who were imprisoned for nearly 18 years for child murders they say they didn’t commit. Know as the West Memphis Three, the cases of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley have attracted international attention over the years. They were released after accepting an Alford plea, which allows defendants to assert their innocence, while conceding that the state has enough evidence to convict them.

The men were convicted as teenagers of killing three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993. Misskelley confessed to the crime after a 12-hour interrogation, implicating Echols and Baldwin, though several of his statements diverged from the evidence. Echols was sentenced to death and the other two were sentenced to life.

Several rounds of DNA testing in recent years has failed to turn up any physical evidence connecting the three men to the crime scene. Today’s deal comes several months before a scheduled hearing to determine whether the men would be granted a new trial in light of the DNA results.

Echols said in a statement released today: “I am innocent, as are Jason and Jessie, but I made this decision because I did not want to spend another day of my life behind those bars”

The men were supported over the years by a large team of dedicated attorneys and thousands of activists around the world.

Read coverage of the case below:

CBS News: “West Memphis Three” Freed After 18 Years

New York Times: Deal Frees ‘West Memphis Three’ in Arkansas

Memphis Commercial Appeal: West Memphis Three Set Free

Arkansas Blog: Case Summary

West Memphis Three Website

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One response to “West Memphis Three Go Free

  1. It is hard to comprehend at times how crooked our justice system can be. It is profoundly disappointing and has ruined thousands of peoples lives. The penal system provides no mercy and no redemption.. people in prison need help to look forward to a better future. They need to be taught to learn from their mistakes and how to correct them to make better decisions. Society itself needs to change before the members can be expected to change. The instability of western ‘christian’ society in particular greatly affects people’s lives. Eastern society promotes family and community thus their populations have a peace that even though some may be in poverty, people in this country cannot find. Western society promotes individual freedom and self sufficiency which in times of distress and trouble provides no backdrop to lean on, no dependency of a family or community to tide you over or encourage your success. This is the sad reality of life today.

    Like

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