If the West Memphis 3 are innocent, then who did it?

November 29, 2011

Political Theory


Over the past few months I have been following a story in the news pretty closely regarding the West Memphis 3.  For those of you that don’t know, this is one of the most compelling, shocking, and undoubtedly confusing stories many of us will ever hear.  Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and JasonBaldwin are the three men I am referring to, and in August each was released after serving 17 years behind bars for the brutal murder of 3 young boys.  

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Back in 1993, prosecuters alleged that the trio, then 18, 17, and 16 respectively, had murdered three children in Robin Hood Hills, AR, mutilating the bodies and hogtying each with the boys own shoelaces.  After a gripping trial that rocked the entire nation, Echols was sentenced to death, Misskelley was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 40 years, and Baldwin was sentenced to life in prison.  At the time, the prosecutors in the case convicted the three boys after the murders were believed to have been done as a satanic ritual, and the three were forced to plead guilty after there was not enough evidence to acquit them.

However, in 2007, DNA testing that was unavailable in 1993 to be used in the case found that DNA originally found at the crime scene did not match any of the three defendants.  In a complex legal agreement called an Alford plea, the three men maintained their innocence with the belief that a jury would acquit them of all charges once new evidence was brought up in the case.  This complex circle of innocence and guilt has received world wide attention over the past 15 years as the case has been the subject of three HBO documentaries titled “Paradise Lost”, each of which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the case or a great documentary.  The men also have an extensive list of celebrity supporters that vouch for their innocence after seeing all of the proof, including guitarist Eddie Vedder and actor Johnny Depp who have each raised money to prove the three’s innocence.  Surprisingly, the parents of each of the victims also vouch that the three are innocent, adding that they are angry at the way the pleas are being handled and still want to see justice for the horrors they have had to deal with.

So, if the West Memphis 3 did not murder those three young boys back in 1993, then who did? And if the 3 really were not the ones that committed such a heinous crime, then why did they admit to it in the first place?  Many similar questions have been brought up in this very confusing trial, and surely more arise in the near future once a deeper investigation using modern technology is concluded.  Another question that comes into play in this situation is the notion of dirty hands.  Who is to blame for locking up three innocent teens when there was no conclusive evidence that they actually did it? And if they three truly are guilty of these crimes and the evidence was right the first time, then why would the state of Arkansas release 3 convicted murderers that should be in jail forever? These questions may or may never be answered after further investigation, so who is really to blame for all of this mess in the first place?

 

See More:

West Memphis 3: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/19/west-memphis-three-free_n_931449.html#s333774&title=John_Mark_Byers

Paradise Lost: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117293/

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2 Comments on “If the West Memphis 3 are innocent, then who did it?”

  1. Jeannie Thomas Says:

    They have to be guilty. If Jessie is retarded, with the mind of a 4 year old as they say he has, how could he have added the minute details to his confession? I.E., “the Moore boy ran and I chased him down and took him back…” And the “3” sure did not put up much of a fight when they were indicted, and neither did their lawyers. Too fishy all the way around.

  2. ceabee Says:

    I don’t feel educated enough on this case to make assumptions as to who murdered those three young black boys in 1993. I think the reason that the three admitted to the crime in the first place was due to pressure from the police. No one can take all of the blame for locking up the three innocent teens, but I’m sure many were eager to have the case put to rest after such a brutal murder. The parents probably placed a lot of pressure on the police, which then led the police to pressure the West Memphis 3 since they were their only probable suspects. I don’t think these questions may ever be answered. After such a long period of time, it will be extremely difficult to find those who really are responsible for the crime. I don’t think it’s possible to really place blame on one individual or one group for this mess in the first place.

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