Peter Jackson still seeking justice for West Memphis Three -- EXCLUSIVE
by Chris Nashawaty
Entertainment Weekly has learned that director Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh will continue to fund the West Memphis Three investigation, even now that the men have been released from prison — free, but technically still considered guilty in the eyes of the law. “The ongoing work will focus on proving the convicted men’s innocence, as it always has,” says Jackson’s manager, Ken Kamins. He adds that the investigation will include “evidence testing and further investigation which will hopefully lead to the unmasking of the actual killer.”
The Lord of the Rings director has spent the past several years quietly funding private investigations and forensic experts to help clear the West Memphis Three. Jackson has been a longtime advocate of Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols — the trio of men many believe were wrongly convicted in 1994 of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark., and whose nightmare odyssey in the legal system became the subject of the award-winning 1996 HBO documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp, Natalie Maines, and Henry Rollins were among the others who rallied to support the West Memphis Three.
“When Peter and Fran got involved, they had to decide how to best serve the case,” Kamins says. “Damien, Jason, and Jessie had great public advocates in Eddie, Johnny, Natalie, Henry, Paradise Lost, and everyone else who was raising money and bringing public attention to the case. Peter and Fran, therefore, decided to put their attention into funding and spearheading DNA work, hiring forensic and other experts, plus extensive private investigations into all aspects of the case.”
Kamins continued: “Because Peter and Fran’s role required a very close relationship with the defense lawyers, in particular Damien’s team, they have always respected and understood that their role had to be of a confidential nature. They have worked very closely with a number of Damien’s attorneys and over the years they have become close friends with Damien and [his wife] Lorri. They have always believed that if they could get Damien free, Jason and Jessie would benefit too.”
Even though the West Memphis Three are now free, Kamins says that Jackson and Walsh’s crusade is far from over. “This work is ongoing,” says Kamins. “Peter and Fran are heavily involved in ongoing investigations, and the release of the guys is far from the end of the story.”
“When you say you killed someone, that’s pretty damning,” Ellington said.
Since the deal, Ellington said he’s received many e-mails and messages, mostly negative, about the decision, but he doesn’t care.
“We were able to protect the decisions made by two juries,” Ellington said. “We feel good about that.”
In an Alford Plea, the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court will pronounce the defendant guilty. The defendant may plead guilty yet not admit all the facts that comprise the crime. An Alford plea allows defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt. One example is a situation where the defendant has no recollection of the pertinent events due to intoxication or amnesia. A defendant making an Alford plea maintains his innocence of the offense charged. One reason for making such a plea may be to avoid being convicted on a more serious charge. Acceptance of an Alford plea is in the court's discretion.
However, in many states, a plea which "admits sufficient facts" often results in the case being continued without a decision and later dismissed. A conviction under an Alford plea may be used as a conviction for later sentencing purposes. However, one state supreme court has held that an Alford plea, unlike a criminal trial, does not provide a full and fair hearing on the issues in the case, and therefore does not preclude later litigation of the issues.
I don't really know enough about your legal system, but I think it's really strange to free someone who is still technically guilty, unless it's part of the parole system.
Ninderjit Singh, Man Wanted For Murder, Arrested
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A long-haul truck driver sought for 12 years in the shooting death in Canada of his teenage ex-girlfriend has been arrested in Southern California.
U.S. officials said Tuesday that 33-year-old Ninderjit Singh was taken into custody Friday after a traffic stop near his home in San Jacinto.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation said Singh, an Indian national, is awaiting extradition to Canada where he is a legal resident.
He is suspected in the 1999 shooting death of 18-year-old Poonam Randhawa in Vancouver. Authorities said her body was found on a street near her school, where she was last seen in a vehicle with Singh.
The case was featured on "America's Most Wanted" in 2000 and generated some leads, but Singh eluded capture until last week.
Millions have been spent in investigating and getting the WM3 released. To me, that says a lot. People truly want the truth and are still funding the investigation. I think there is hope!
Of hands I would say the odds are better then 50/50 that they are the killers and the two juries was correct.
You don't execute a man because the odds are better then 50/50 that the jury got it right!