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Monday, August 22, 2011

The West Memphis Three

Aug 22nd, 2011

They're free. Those of us who helped fight for the better part of two decades to secure their release have a lot to grateful for here. Still, this is a bitter victory.

via the LA Times:

"In an agreement with prosecutors, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, both 36, and Jason Baldwin, 34, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges but will also able to claim they are innocent, a rare arrangement known as an Alford plea.

"It's not perfect by any means," Echols, pale and in tinted shades, said at a news conference after the hearing. "But at least it brings closure.... We can still try to clear our names. The only difference is now we can do it from the outside."

Echols, the alleged ringleader, had been on death row. Baldwin and Misskelley were serving life sentences."

For those unfamiliar with the case, this report from CBS covers the basics:

"Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin were convicted in 1994 of killing Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore a year earlier and leaving their naked bodies in a ditch in West Memphis, Ark. Because Echols wore black and listened to heavy metal music, investigators believed the murders were part of a satanic ritual."

I encourage you to explore the details of this travesty, but that last sentence pretty much tells you everything you need to know. They were different. They were outcasts. They were a lot like millions of other kids who didn't fit in very well but found safety with each other.

More background

West Memphis Three: Time for Truth from Brian Quist on Vimeo.

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