The “West Memphis Three” were released from jail today after serving 18 years for brutal murder and torture of three boys in Arkansas. They were subjects of the 1996 doc Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, whose makers fought to prove their innocence.
Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin were convicted of grizzly torture and genital mutilation of three prepubescent boys to death in 1993, without any DNA evidence. “Shoddy investigative tactics,” coercion of confessions, misconduct, “bogus claims of Satanism” and subsequent Salem-style panic of the politically conservative and strongly Evangelical Christian town were explored in the first documentary and its follow up, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000). New evidence recently examined the court has finally brought about their release.
As the third follow up Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is getting ready to be released in November, the “West Memphis Three” are free… but they had to plead guilty. The Huffington Post explains:
The plea means that you maintain your innocence but you believe there is a substantial likelihood that a jury will find you guilty so you are pleading guilty per State v. Alford. The effect of the corresponding finding of guilt by the court is the same as with a straight guilty plea.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory preview: