West memphis three case summary

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west memphis three case summary

Devils Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt

In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning journalist Mara Leveritts The Devils Knot remains the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three.

For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers, alleged members of a satanic cult, with the killings. Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere of the trials, and a case which included stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison and Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. The guilty verdicts were popular in their home state, even upheld on appeal, and all three remained in prison until their unprecedented release in August 2011.

With close-up views of its key participants, this award-winning account unravels the many tangled knots of this endlessly shocking case, one which will shape the American legal landscape for years to come.
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Published 16.01.2019

Damien Echols of the ‘West Memphis Three’ Speaks Out

In , two juries found the men, who were teenagers at the time, guilty of murdering three eight-year-old boys Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers in May in West Memphis. Echols was sentenced to death, Baldwin and Misskelley to life without parole.
Mara Leveritt

West Memphis Three

Their trial, which included assertions that the killings were part of a cultic ritual, and subsequent conviction set off a firestorm around the nation and world, inspired books and movies, and led to a movement to re-try or free the three men, believed by many to have been wrongly convicted. On May 6, , Byers, Branch, and Moore were found in a water-filled ditch in the woods of the Robin Hood Hills subdivision less than twenty-four hours after their parents had reported them missing. The boys were naked, beaten, and hog-tied. Byers had been castrated. Despite the violence of the crime, there was little evidence at the scene of the crime. Police wondered at the peculiar lack of blood or fibers, and also noted that the area looked as though it had been swept clean.

The West Memphis Three are Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and The police were faced with a case that immediately gained national.
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Trials and convictions

Johnny Depp on West Memphis Three

At the time, the prosecution asserted that the boys were murdered as part of a satanic ritual. All three of the accused were convicted of the murders and sentenced to life imprisonment and, in Echols case, the death penalty which was never carried out by the State. Following the submission of new DNA evidence in , the State of Arkansas negotiated a plea agreement with all three of the accused and allowed them to submit Alford pleas which essentially asserts that while the three acknowledge that the State has enough evidence to convict them, they maintain their innocence. The three were then released on time served. For many, this was enough to exonerate the three teenagers, now grown men. Lets examine these three actually four other peoples testimony, shall we?

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