West Memphis Three Released from Jail Amid Celebrity and Public Support

August 19, 2011

After nearly 20 years in jail, the infamous trio known as “The West Memphis Three” have finally been released from prison, and scores of people throughout the country are celebrating (and some protesting!) what they consider to be a victory for the American justice system, including many celebrity supporters!

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The West Memphis Three – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr – were convicted of brutally killing three 8-year-old Boy Scouts in a highly publicized 1993 slaying. Since their arrest, however, there has been much speculation that the trio, who were just teenagers as the time, were innocent and falsely convicted of the crimes. They were convicted of the murders based on the states argument that they were part of a satanic cult and the confession of Misskelley, who suffers from some developmental problems and was only an acquaintance of the other two boys. Despite the lack of hard evidence and questionable interrogation techniques, the boys were sentenced to life in prison with Echols getting the death penalty.

Even though they had been convicted of the crimes in two separate trials (one for Misskelley and one for Echols and Baldwin), many supporters have argued their innocence, including the father of one of the victims who does not believe The West Memphis Three murdered his son. In recent years, the plight of these three men have also garnered a lot of publicity due to the surprising amount of celebrity support, including Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines, Henry Rollins, and many others. There have been countless documentaries, books, and even benefit concerts and albums to raise money for these three and draw attention to their cause.

Today was a victory for supporters, as the West Memphis Three were finally released from prison. The terms of the release are a little sketchy for many. They had to acknowledge that they could be re-tried for the crimes and that there may be enough evidence for them to face a second conviction, which in effect is a guilty plea while allowing them to maintain their innocence, although their original convictions were thrown out. This means they haven’t been completely exonerated, which is outraging many supporters due to the lack of evidence in the original case. Only time will tell whether or not they will face another trial for these crimes, though many believe new DNA evidence will easily prove their innocence. What matters for now is that the West Memphis Three are free, whether you support the courts decision or not.

What do you guys think of the news that the West Memphis Three have been released? Do you think the support they have received from celebrities and other high-profile supports played a part? Let us know what you think by leaving us some comments below!

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One Response to “West Memphis Three Released from Jail Amid Celebrity and Public Support”

  1. 1
    Sandy Skrinjaric Says:

    As one of the nameless, faceless thousands who have spent the past 18 years writing letters, donating money, and doing everything I could to see that these three innocent young men finally see justice, I am thankful for all of the celebrities who lent their names and publicity to the cause. This was one of the most clear cases of celebrity power put to good use. God bless Damien, Jason, and Jessie.