The West Memphis Three
On May 6, 1993, the mutilated bodies of three eight-year-old boys were found in West Memphis, AR. The bodies of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers were discovered in a wooded area known as Robin Hood Hills. Rumors began to circulate throughout West Memphis that the killings were related to Satanic rituals.
Approximately one month after the killings, three local teenagers were arrested for the murders: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jesse Misskelley. They became known as the West Memphis 3 (WM3). Many people in the conservative community of West Memphis thought the teenagers fit the profile of someone who would commit such a horrible crime. Echols listened to heavy metal music, wore his hair long, had a goth appearance and spent several weeks in a mental institution. Baldwin and Misskelley had juvenile records for minor offfenses. Misskelley had an IQ of 72 and was border line retarded. The teenagers fate was sealed when after several hours of interrogation Misskelley confessed that he witnessed Echols and Baldwin kill the three boys.
All three teenagers pled not guilty. Misskelley went to trial first and was convicted. He received a life sentence plus 40 years. Baldwin and Echols were tried togther and were also found guilty. Baldwin received a life sentence without parole and Echols received the death sentence. He is currently on Arkansas death row.
There are many people who believe the WM3 are innocent. This includes celebrities such as actor Johnny Depp and singers Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Misskelley recanted his confession after he realized he was not going to be released from police custody. There was a lack of physical evidence connecting the three teenagers to the crime. Recent DNA testing showed that none of the DNA found at the crime scene matched the convicted teenagers.
Let's look the statements we have concerning this case. The police did not record the interviews they conducted with Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.
After spending 18 years behind bars, on August 19, 2011 the West Memphis Three were released from prison. New DNA evidence most likely would have given the three a new trial. The prosecution said it would be almost impossible to to put on a new trial 18 years after the slayings.
Mark Cowart DDS discovers new
bite mark evidence that points to a possible suspect.