surprise hearing tomorrow where reportedly the west memphis 3 will confess to the murders at robin hood hills. in exchange, 2 of the 3 are expected to be released with time served. multiple sources, including the father of one of the victims, have confirmed that damien echols will be released from death row. WTF? the 3 have now served over 18 years in prison. last month dna evidence failed to link any of them to the murders. death penalty opponents are hoping for exoneration
seems it involves some fancy legal maneuvering, apparently an alford plea in which the defendants are allowed to maintain their innocence while conceding the state has the evidence to convict. sounds like the state wants to avoid any more legal proceedings in the case.
an update on part 3 of this film which may have a happier ending after today. it looks like the state will try to save face by releasing at least 2 of the 3 through an alford plea. not exactly justice but it’s something
@ruby: thanks for the update
my finacee has been wearing a WM3 bracelet for years. She can finally take it off today (hopefully).
I cannot wait for the 3rd film now
She can. Just enter “West Memphis Three” in Google and thousands of stories will pop up…
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“West Memphis Three” released:
“I am innocent of these charges but I am entering an Alford guilty plea,” Damien Echols told the judge. Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley also reasserted their innocence.
“Although I am innocent, this plea is in my best interest,” Misskelley said.
After Friday’s hearing, Baldwin told reporters that he had been reluctant to plead guilty to crimes he didn’t commit. But he agreed to the deal to get Echols off death row.
“That’s not justice, however you look at it,” he said.
Echols thanked Baldwin and called his release “overwhelming.”
“It’s not perfect,” he said of the arrangement. “It’s not perfect by any means. But it at least brings closure to some areas and some aspects.”
He said the three would continue to work to clear their names.
Recent DNA tests did not link the men to the scene and, in fact, showed the presence of others who have never been identified.
thank goodness. i think the state was willing to do anything at this point to avoid a new trial that could prove their innocence, opening itself to lawsuits for unlawful imprisonment and miscarriage of justice. what’s criminal is they never even bothered investigating any other suspects. i remember when this happened and the whole satanic hysteria of the early 90s was so bizarre. glad there’s finally some closure to this case.
Atom Egoyan is doing the movie.
Hmmm…..Egoyan kinda makes sense leading up to the crime, with the way he portends ambiguity.
Based on the book: direct a feature based based on Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three,” Egoyan’s reps at WME confirmed today.
“i think the state was willing to do anything at this point to avoid a new trial that could prove their innocence”
Really, from what I’ve read, it was more a matter of the likelihood of the verdict being thrown out due to the accusations of jury misconduct (which sounded pretty legitimate to me). The new DNA evidence certainly casts some doubt on the verdict, but it was really proof of anything, and people are convicted without any physical evidence all the time.
The prosecuting attorney, Scott Ellington, said in an interview that the state still considered the men guilty and that, new DNA findings notwithstanding, he knew of no current suspects.
“We don’t think that there is anybody else,” Mr. Ellington said, declaring the case closed.
Asked how he could free murderers if he believed they were guilty, he acknowledged that the three men would likely be acquitted if a new trial were held, given the prominent lawyers now representing them, the fact that evidence has decayed or disappeared over time and the death or change of heart of several original witnesses. He also expressed concern that if the men were exonerated at trial, they could sue the state, possibly for millions of dollars.
“I believe that with all the circumstances that were facing the state in this case, this resolution is one that is palatable and I think that after a period of time it will be acceptable to the public as the right thing,” Mr. Ellington said. — NY Times
the previous convictions were vacated today. ok, i shouldn’t have said ‘proove’ their innocence, but that they might be found innocent. a hearing was already set to consider motion for a new trial and a deal was made to avoid that. i forget how rigorous u guys are about language :p anyway, what a fucked case from day one
Even if they are guilty, they’ve been in prison for what? almost half their lives now? Seems like that should suffice as punishment.
it’s one more strike against the death penalty. i hope we’ll see it abolished in our lifetime.
I just ordered the two docs from the library – I didn’t want to watch this, but by the time the Egoyan film comes out, I will only have a vague recollection, which is good.
review from variety for the 3rd doc:
Destined to rank as one of the major achievements in American documentary, the “Paradise Lost” project comes to a presumed end with “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.” Or perhaps that should be “2 1/2”: With the release from prison last month of their subjects, the West Memphis 3, helmers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have had to fashion a new ending to their masterwork of explanatory journalism, advocacy and perseverance. Toronto Film Festival audiences, therefore, are seeing the film not only first, but last: When it plays the New York Film Festival Oct. 10 and airs on HBO in January, its ending will have changed.
It won’t be a major alteration. At the moment, “Purgatory” ends with the decree by the Arkansas Supreme Court that new DNA and other forensic evidence presented in 2007 justified a new hearing for defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, originally convicted in 1994 for the murders of three young boys in suburban Arkansas. They subsequently cut a deal with prosecutors and were released.
Whether this development will change the viewing experience is debatable, since “Purgatory” will end on an up note in any event. What won’t change is what the film, in its current state, does so well: synopsizing all that’s come before, juggling dozens of dates, events and people, without ever losing the narrative flow. The film incorporates the startling new information — including a medical examiner’s conclusion that wild animals, not human killers, committed the “mutilations” of the victim’s corpses — and arrives at a coherent combination of the new and old.
Much of the credit should go to editor Alyse Ardell Spiegel, although she has the able assistance of time in avoiding confusion among the different chapters of the case. A sad fact, one that will no doubt dawn on viewers halfway through the film, is that so many years have elapsed since the West Memphis 3 were convicted, they have all aged to the point where they would never be mistaken for their younger selves in 1996 or 2000 (the years that HBO broadcast the first two installments).
“Paradise Lost 2: Revelations” pointed a finger at John Mark Byers, the adoptive father of murder victim Christopher Byers and a rather extreme character. He had, among other things, given one of the movie’s cameramen a knife stained with blood (testing proved inconclusive), and campaigned so vigorously against the three suspects that he practically invited scrutiny. While Byers is again a principal figure, in “Purgatory,” he’s switched teams: He not only voices regret about his strident accusations of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley, but now believes them innocent, and joins the chorus of voices calling for the investigation of Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Stephen Branch, and the only person close to the case who can be connected to the crime scene via DNA.
Berlinger and Sinofsky make use of all manner of footage in constructing “Purgatory,” including deposition videos of chief West Memphis investigator Gary Gitchell (who continues to insist that the original convictions were correct) and Hobbs, who at one point sued Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines, one of the many celebrity supporters of the West Memphis 3, thus putting himself under oath and opening himself to questions about the murders. These sequences are fascinating, as is the very fact of Hobb’s presence in the film; an end title states that certain interview subjects were paid (though it names no one).
The “Paradise Lost” films have probably had a more tangible influence on the cause of justice than any docu since “The Thin Blue Line,” which only had one life at stake. What the three films have ultimately done is not solve a crime so much as expose a resistance to truth that’s endemic to the criminal justice system, here in Arkansas.
“We were impoverished white trash,” Echols says of himself and his fellow defendant, “and I have no doubt they would have murdered me if they could.” What “Purgatory” leaves the viewer with is the horrifying notion that it took 18 years, three movies and a movement to free the West Memphis 3, and it’s hard to believe theirs was the only case of injustice out there.
Tech credits are tops, especially the incidental music by Wendy Blackstone and songs by Metallica.
Camera (color), Bob Richman; editor, Alyse Ardell Spiegel; music, Wendy Blackstone, Metallica; sound, Eddie O’Connor. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 11, 2011. Running time: 105 MIN.
thanks for the update dennis!