Friday, August 19, 2011

Bittersweet Symphony West Memphis Three is Finally Free

Damien Echols: Overwhelmed, from isolation to freedom and media blitz.
Today, the West Memphis Three entered an Alford Plea.  What is this? It is a guilty plea in criminal court where the defendant does not admit the act and maintains their innocence.  The West Memphis Three have maintained their innocence for over 18 years.  Under the Alford plea, they must agree that "sufficient evidence exists" wherein prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury (as they have before...based on circumstantial evidence) to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lost : 18 years of their lives.  Photo courtesy of WM3.org
I have been supporting the release of the West Memphis Three for years, always believing they were innocent due to my own assertation of shoddy police work and crazy facts (or lack thereof) surrounding the case. Damien Echols, (on Death Row),  Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin who were serving life in prison as convicted in 1994 of killing Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore. The "Satanic Murderers" as they were labeled for killing "Boy Scouts" raised a bunch of concerns due to the way in which the case was handled. People in Arkansas began to doubt their guilt as did movie stars such as Johnny Depp and singers like Eddie Vedder.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam spread the word for years on the West Memphis Three, wearing t-shirts and talking to the crowds about them at concerts. Photo: WM3.org
Of course it took me months to go through the transcripts and information to assertain this thought process of them being innocent. If I listened to the State of Arkansas, I would think they were guilty. If I watched "Paradise Lost" people would accuse me of thinking they were innocent based on a Hollywood movie.  I have never seen it...and I don't think I ever will.
Justice Robbed and Taketh Away: 18 Years Wrong Imprisionment and Unsolved Murders  Image: newsmagazine

The tragedy of this story is these boys are free after losing 18 years of their life, but the prosecution is considering the case closed. How can the State of Arkansas consider this case be closed when:

  • There was male DNA not matching any of the WM3?
  • There was no criminal evidence attaching the boys to the crimes?
  • Three little boys have lost their lives ?
So with anything I see that although victory was served for WM3, there is no room to celebrate today.  It is a Bittersweet Symphony. The justice system has taken 18 years of their lives and failed three innocent little boys whose murderer is out there....

The State obviously wants to assertain they are correct and say the case is closed because in their mind, they did it.

Review the Case information here.
 
Read the News about them being released here.
 




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