West Memphis Three

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Three men in the United States (Jessie Misskelley, Jr., Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols) are known under the name West Memphis Three , who are believed to have committed the murders of three eight-year-old boys in 1993 and were convicted in 1994. At the time of the crime, they were teenagers and some of them were minors.

The case generated a lot of media interest, especially because genetic engineering evidence suggests that it was a miscarriage of justice .

Act and trial

At the time of the offense, the accused were between 16 and 18 years old. They allegedly mistreated, handcuffed and murdered three eight-year-old boys in May 1993, with one of the boys dying of blood loss from knife wounds according to an autopsy , while the other two drowned. The eldest of the three alleged perpetrators was sentenced to death by lethal injection , and the two were sentenced to prison terms at the time of the crime.

The police were later accused in various publications of not having investigated the case particularly carefully. Alternative hypotheses are said not to have been checked and traces covered. The accused were also accused of satanic behavior, for which, among other things, the accused's musical preferences and clothing style were interpreted as evidence.

In July 2007, new forensic evidence was presented. Among other things, it became known that the DNA samples secured at the scene of the crime did not match any of the convicts, but they did match the stepfather of one of the victims and his friend, with whom he is said to have been on the day of the crime.

The defense of the main defendant, who was sentenced to death, then requested a hearing to reopen the proceedings , which the judge in charge refused in September 2008.

The Arkansas State Supreme Court, after an oral hearing, overturned this decision in November 2010 and ordered all three convicts to be heard to determine whether to reopen the case.

On August 19, 2011, following an agreement between the prosecution and defense in connection with the ordering of a ten-year suspended sentence, they were released from prison for having "served the sentence for their crime".

Public reactions

Damien Echols (2012)

The case triggered a wave of public solidarity with the convicts. Among other things, the music album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three was produced by Henry Rollins in 2002 , on which artists such as Lemmy Kilmister , Tom Araya , Nick Oliveri , Ryan Adams and Dean Ween von Ween together with the Rollins Band Songs covered the group Black Flag and whose proceeds went to the West Memphis Three. Two years earlier, Eddie Spaghetti had put together a sampler titled Free the West Memphis 3 , in which the bands Rocket from the Crypt , L7 and Killing Joke had participated. Other bands and artists such as Pearl Jam , Alkaline Trio , Michale Graves, Sage Francis , Disturbed and Zao dedicated the three songs, and other celebrities such as Johnny Depp , Winona Ryder , Trey Parker , Robert Smith and director Peter Jackson expressed their solidarity.

Media reception

The case was featured in several documentaries that were broadcast on American television and that dealt critically with the work of the police and the judiciary. The first two parts of the Paradise Lost series, The Lost Paradise - The Child Murders in Robin Hood Hills  (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations  (2000), raised new doubts about the guilt of the convicts through independent investigations by the film team. The third installment in the series, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory , was nominated for an Oscar in 2012 for Best Documentary .

The books The Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt and Blood of Innocents by Guy Reel were also published. The film based on the book of the same name, Devil's Knot, premiered in September 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival .

In 2012 another documentary on the case was released under the title West of Memphis , produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Amy Berg .


Individual evidence

  1. ^ West Memphis Three. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. February 16, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2017 .
  2. Arkansas Blog: West Memphis 3 Press Conference ( Memento of the original from November 3, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.arktimes.com
  3. Bleed, Jill Zeman: New hearing ordered for 3 in Ark. scout deaths . In: The Associated Press , November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ Campbell Robertson: Deal Frees 'West Memphis Three' in Arkansas ; NY Times, Aug. 19, 2011
  5. ^ "So the West Memphis Three are finally released." Peter Jackson on Facebook
  6. Paradise Lost - The Child Murders in Robin Hood Hills, Part 1 in the IMDb , Paradise Lost - The Child Murders in Robin Hood Hills, Part 2 in the IMDb
  7. Devil's Knot - In the Shadow of Truth. Retrieved September 27, 2014 .