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Are you aware of the West Memphis Three?

The three men/juveniles, who were accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis in 1994. Damien Echols received the death penalty, Jessie Misskelley Jr. was sentenced Life imprisonment with two 20-year terms, and Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life in prison. 

However, the prosecutor claimed that the crime was committed as part of a Satanic ritual. 

About the case:

The case of West Memphis Three sparked extensive debate. As a result, it became the subject of several documentaries. Its questionable nature of the evidence and the alleged presence of emotional bias in court inspired such documentaries. Moreover, celebrities and artists held fundraisers to aid in the men’s release. 

Later, new forensic evidence were published in July 2007. The report said, “Although much of the genetic material retrieved from the scene was attributable to the victims of the crimes, some of it cannot be traced to either the victims or the defendants.” 

What was the deal of West Memphis with the prosecutors?

The West Memphis Three reached a plea deal with prosecutors. It happened when newly created DNA evidence and alleged juror misconduct were presented. They entered Alford pleas on August 19, 2011, which allowed them to maintain their innocence while recognizing that prosecutors had ample evidence to convict them. 

Subsequently, the three were sentenced to time served after Judge David Laser admitted their pleas. They were given 10-year conditional sentences after serving 18 years in prison. 

Documentaries

Three films, directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, have filmed the case. They are harshly critical of the verdict: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. The films were the first where Metallica’s music had been used in a video, drawing attention to the situation. 

What are the books regarding the case?

Besides movies and documentaries, this incident has inspired many movies as well. It includes-

  • Devil’s Knot
  • Guy Reel’s Blood of Innocents
  • The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three

Most of these works were edited by W. Anderson, including dark fiction and non-fiction by well-known speculative fiction authors, argue that the defendants were wrongfully convicted. 

Other than that, Damien Echols published his memoir, “Almost Home, Vol 1” in 2005. He gave his take on the case through the book. In May 2012, Greg Day wrote “Untying the Knot: John Mark Byers and the West Memphis Three”, a biography of John Mark Byers.

 

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Sam Hardy

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