0
   

West Memphis 3 Are Going To Be Freed!

 
 
firefly
 
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 11:25 am
This news was just announced...
Quote:
Plea Deal Sets Imprisoned Men Free in 1993 'Memphis 3' Murder Case

Published August 19, 2011 | Associated Press

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Three men convicted of killing three 8-year-old Cub Scouts and dumping their naked bodies in an Arkansas ditch have been allowed to change their pleas and will be freed after nearly two decades in prison.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley pleaded guilty Friday.

The so-called West Memphis Three agreed to a legal maneuver that lets them maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors likely have enough evidence to convict them.

Two of the victims in the 1993 killings were drowned, the third corpse was mutilated, sparking rumors they had been sacrificed in a Satanic ritual.

Echols was sentenced to die; Baldwin and Misskelley received life terms. Misskelley initially confessed, but defense attorneys claim police took advantage of his low IQ.
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/19/plea-deal-sets-imprisoned-men-free-in-13-memphis-3-murder-case/

  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 14,819 • Replies: 358

 
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 11:46 am
@firefly,
I just watched the press conference with them. Jason Baldwin didn't want to take the deal because he said "we aren't guilty" but he took it because it would get Damien off death row. They stuck together this whole 18 years of being in prison. I think it's amazing and I am so happy for them I cannot stop crying happy tears! I am so thrilled for them. Here are details of the Alford plea:

Quote:
Three men convicted of killing three West Memphis, Arkansas, boys in 1993 were freed following a court hearing Friday.

The men - Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin attended the hearing in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Echols had been sentenced to death, and Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences in the May 1993 slayings of Steven Branch and fellow second-graders Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. The boys' bodies were mutilated and left in a ditch, hogtied with their own shoelaces.

So how exactly were the convicted men able to go free?

New DNA evidence failed to link the men to the crime, and the state Supreme Court ruled in November that all three could present new evidence to the trial court in an effort to clear them. A decision was pending on whether the three would get a true trial. In essence, the deal made today negates the need for that.

The three struck a deal with the prosecution by entering what is known as an Alford plea, which means they didn't admit to any actual criminal act, but they did admit the prosecution probably has enough evidence that it would lead to their conviction. Under the deal reached Friday the men pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 18 years in prison with credit for time served, a prosecutor said.

"In a nutshell, you are pleading guilty not because you admit that you did something wrong but because you are concerned the state has enough evidence to prove you guilty," attorney B.J. Bernstein said. "This is a common thing in tough cases, where a defendant is just adamant; I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it. They won't confess to it, but the evidence is so strong they are going to lose."

The highly technical legal maneuver also allows the three to be freed and be considered innocent. Although an Alford plea is treated as a guilty plea for sentencing, it cannot be held against the three men in any subsequent criminal prosecution or civil proceeding.

The Alford plea stems from a Supreme Court case that looked at whether you could negotiate a plea deal when someone says they are not guilty. Typically, when you plead guilty, a judge asks you if you are in fact guilty of the crime you have pleaded to. The concern in the Alford case was whether people would plead guilty only to crimes they maintained they were innocent of because they were coerced. But the court ruled that defendants concerned about what would happen during a trial can in fact plead guilty while saying they didn't commit the crime.

"The thing about Alford is, it’s a tool to end the case," said Bernstein, who has been both a prosecutor and defense attorney. "Because they are pleading guilty, from the prosecutor's view, everything a guilty plea means, is possible. But they haven’t lost anything. They are getting that guilty, versus some other resolution ... like offering a lesser charge."

Bernstein said that even if the three men are freed, they will still have the word "guilty" and its implications attached to them when it comes to things like termination of rights and trying to apply for a job.

But overall, the goal of a deal like this is to get resolution in a tough case. Because the men were convicted in 1993 and new evidence has been introduced, Bernstein said, the length of time between the cases could prove difficult for prosecutors. It's a matter of time and money to pursue the case as well.

Although an Alford plea is used in difficult places, some people don't view it favorably all the time depending on the case.

"Otherwise, you have a lot of people saying 'I'll plead guilty, but I'm not guilty,' " Bernstein said.

And in most cases, people want a clear-cut answer.

In this case, which has been in the national spotlight and drawn much public interest, the Alford plea could be seen as the easiest way to at least get some resolution to the case, with the interests of both parties in mind.

"It is the mechanism to get closure," Bernstein said
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 12:34 pm
@Arella Mae,
That Alford plea certainly is one complicated legal maneuver.

I've never been completely convinced that these 3 were totally innocent, but I have been appalled at the alleged "justice" system that convicted them and kept them behind bars for 18 years. Too much of what went on with this case seemed like a travesty.

So I am very glad to see this case end, and to end with the release of these three men. I can't think of any other legal case that I've ever followed that has been plagued with so many issues of possible miscarriage of justice, and questionable legal representation, from the original trials right through the appeals procedures. And the fact that one of the convicted was sitting on death row awaiting execution, made the entire legal scenario rather frightening.

While I can't really understand a legal tactic that allows them to plead guilty but not admit guilt, I am glad this is over and that the complicated plea deal secured their release.

Arella Mae
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 12:40 pm
@firefly,
It's been a horrible miscarriage of justice for 18 years. There has been no justice for anyone and I doubt we will ever know what truly happened.

Hubby and I tend to think it was probably an over the road trucker that made a stop and then moved on. Knowing who really did it won't change anyone's life.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 12:44 pm
@firefly,
They were originally convicted in 1993 at a time when "satanic ritual" theories were still taken seriously. The satanic panic had been inadvertently popularized by television personalities such as Geraldo Rivera and Oprah Winfrey when satanic cults became topics on their shows.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 12:49 pm
I remember seeing a documentary on this years and years ago that called into question the evidence used to convict these kids. My memory is really fuzzy about it though. Weren't they kind of "goth" kids who hung out at a certain park?

Maybe the documentary was called "Paradise Lost". Does anyone remember? I'd like to rewatch it.
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 12:58 pm
@boomerang,
Paradise Lost, yes There is a Part 2 and now I believe a Part 3 will be out soon. You can find it on youtube. I did a thread back in 2007 about it. "Supposedly satanic" Damien Echols dressed in black and wasn't your average kid next door...................which today he admits his attitude, dress, etc., didn't do a thing to help him. In this case, it took 18 years from their lives.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:10 pm
@firefly,
Okay, they were convicted of killing three 8 year old cub scouts. They were able to retroactively (?) change their plea to guilty because of overwelming evidence against them. They are now going to be freed.

This is good news. . . how?
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:13 pm
@Arella Mae,
Arella Mae, it seems to me that I read something about one of Damien's lawyers being drunk in the courtroom during one of his appeals procedures--raising very serious issues about the competency of his legal representation, yet a judge ruled the lawyer was competent. And this case kept winding up in front of the same judge during the appeals process, although that judge seemed to be acting with bias.

Do you remember reading anything like that?

I continued to follow this case over the years through info and links at this site
http://www.wm3.org/
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:17 pm
@roger,
Quote:

This is good news. . . how?

It finally ended a case that has always been mired in legal problems of all sorts and it secured the release of the three men--one of whom was facing execution.
New evidence had emerged, but a re-trial of the three really wouldn't have been feasible after all these years. This plea deal was a compromise to bring closure to a case that would have continued to drag on with appeals but was already too tainted by things that occurred with it in the past.

It split the baby, but let the baby live.

The three, who may have been wrongly convicted, are now free men.

That is good news.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:23 pm
@firefly,
Not to labor the point, but they were convicted on what was stated to be overwelming evidence. Now, they have somehow managed to get off by PLEADING GUILTY.

I don't expect to have a meeting of minds on this one.
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:25 pm
@firefly,
firefly wrote:

Arella Mae, it seems to me that I read something about one of Damien's lawyers being drunk in the courtroom during one of his appeals procedures--raising very serious issues about the competency of his legal representation, yet a judge ruled the lawyer was competent. And this case kept winding up in front of the same judge during the appeals process, although that judge seemed to be acting with bias.

Do you remember reading anything like that?

I continued to follow this case over the years through info and links at this site
http://www.wm3.org/


I don't recall the part about the lawyer being drunk but I definitely do recall the judge. I firmly believe if another judge had heard any of this it would have been overturned a long time ago. To this day the prosecution, judge, etc., absolutely will not admit any mistakes when mistakes have been proven time and time again.
0 Replies
 
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:29 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

Not to labor the point, but they were convicted on what was stated to be overwelming evidence. Now, they have somehow managed to get off by PLEADING GUILTY.

I don't expect to have a meeting of minds on this one.


There was absolutely no overwhelming evidence. There was absolutely NO EVIDENCE at all that linked any of them to the crime scene. The whole town was scared to death. They believed it was a satanic ritual in which the three boys were sacrificed and unfortunately, Damien Echols did absolutely nothing to make people think otherwise of him. He would state emphatically he was innocent but wore black nail polish, dyed his hair jet black, strange haircuts, etc.

Quite a few people that made original statements over the years have recanted them.

What was first thought to be mutilation of the bodies was later PROVEN to be bites from turtles and other animals.

They did not plead guilty to the crime. They plead to the fact the prosecution had evidence and could have taken the case back to court. Since Damien was on death row, they didn't take the chance of another trial and I don't blame them. Look what happened at the first one!
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:32 pm
@roger,
I don't really understand the Alford plea either, roger. On the surface, it doesn't seem to make sense.

The Alford seems to say they can plead guilty, simply because they acknowledge that the D.A. has overwhelming evidence which might convict them in a future trial, but this particular type of guilty plea does not require that they admit to commiting the crime (as would be the case in other guilty pleas).

It's a legal tactic to end a case. This one really needed to be ended.
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:38 pm
@firefly,
Also, an Alford plea makes it impossible for the WM3 to sue for false imprisonment, etc. It ends it in more ways than one.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  3  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:42 pm
From what I had read of this case, there was no physical evidence linking the three to the crime. One of the three, who was borderline mentally retarded, was interrogated by local police and confessed to participating in a ritual killing with the other two. His confession was even at odds with details of the crime. Also, that particular police department was being investigated by state officials for corruption. Getting a quick arrest in a shocking and greatly publicized murder got good publicity for a police department that was under a shadow at the time.
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:47 pm
@wandeljw,
You just summed it up perfectly!
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 01:51 pm
@firefly,
firefly wrote:
That Alford plea certainly is one complicated legal maneuver.

It's not complicated at all. In fact, it's done all the time.

An Alford plea does not mean the prosecution has "overwhelming" evidence of guilt, but it certainly does mean the defendant -- while not admitting guilt -- believes that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convince a jury of his guild beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes it is in the best interests of the defendant to enter a guilty plea (i.e., a reduced sentence) ... the problem is that when one enters a "guilty" plea one must acknowledge their guilt of the charged offense. An Alford Plea allows the defendant to plead "guilty" but not acknowledge guilt.
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 02:03 pm
@Ticomaya,
Isn't that going to make it hard for the WM3 to get employment, etc.? This is a felony on their records, right? I know the DA said it had a ten year suspension (?). The WM3 can be thrown back in prison if they break any law?
contrex
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2011 04:23 pm
Can't the convictions simply be quashed (overturned) by an appeals court? That's what we do in Britain when it turns out that people's convictions are unsafe. This happened a lot with alleged Irish Republican Army "terrorists" convicted in the 1970s and released 15 or 20 years later. And others.
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » West Memphis 3 Are Going To Be Freed!
Copyright © 2023 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 01/29/2023 at 07:54:50