Justice For The West Memphis Three!

By: Andrew Freund

In 1996, the Emmy Award-winning documentary Paradise Lost exposed the many injustices in the 1993 "Satanic ritual" murder trial that convicted the West Memphis Three - Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin. The documentary revealed the gross misconduct of police, prosecutors and judges in the case of three teenage boys who were wrongfully accused of a grisly triple murder of three 8-year-old boys.

In March 2000, Paradise Lost 2: New Revelations aired on HBO, making an even stronger case that West Memphis police botched evidence, ignored the obvious primary suspect and did everything they could to target Damien Echols as the supposed ringleader of a "cult" whose members didn't even know each other before the day of the killings.

Yet Echols now sits on Arkansas' death row, waiting for his case to be heard by the state supreme court.

The case of the West Memphis Three is filled with injustices (see www.wm3.org for more details). Police extracted a false confession from Misskelley, a mentally handicapped boy. Misskelley was polygraphed and interrogated by police for more than 12 hours with no access to his father or legal counsel. Yet police recorded only the final 20 minutes of the interrogation to capture a "confession."

No physical evidence linked either Echols, Misskelley or Baldwin to the crime, and bite marks on one of the victims didn't match any of the three. Plus, the obvious main suspect, the stepfather of one of the victims, presented documentary filmmakers with a knife stained with blood that matched the type of one of the victims! Even the father of one of the victims said, "I believe the wrong people are in prison for this crime."

An Internet support campaign has grown up around Damien's case, and a number of entertainers have spoken out - from Metallica to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam to Trey Parker, the creator of "South Park."

Justice for the West Memphis Three!