The West Memphis Three are free. Appalling.
At this point, I have no idea what went on behind the scenes to make this happen. There were no leaks or hints about a deal in the works until the special court session was announced last Thursday. I don’t understand what the prosecution got from this deal, aside from making bad publicity go away.
WM3 supporters should be congratulated on running the best PR campaign for mass murderers of all time. If Richard Ramirez or the Chicago Ripper Crew had their own Paradise Lost, wm3.org and Eddie Vedder, they might have gone free years ago.
The misinformation spouted by mainstream media over the last few days is likewise appalling. This shouldn’t surprise me after all this time, but it does. We heard yet again about the 12-hour interrogation (never happened) of a mentally retarded (he wasn’t) kid. We heard plenty about Misskelley’s original confession, but nothing about his many post-conviction confessions. The freaking New York Times called Damien Echols “a troubled yet gifted 18-year-old who wore all black, listened to heavy metal music and considered himself a Wiccan”. Technically true (except for the “gifted” part), but wouldn’t it also be relevant to mention that Echols had been institutionalized three times in the year before the murders and diagnosed as “homicidal” and “psychotic”? That he had a history of setting fires at school, torturing and killing animals, threatening to kill his parents, sucking blood from people’s wounds and trying to gouge out a classmate’s eyes with his sharpened fingernails?
I wouldn’t have minded a deal that freed Jessie Misskelley in exchange for an honest allocution and testimony against Baldwin and Echols in the event of a new trial. Misskelley was the only one of the three who showed any remorse back in 1993-94. He probably did not participate in Echols and Baldwin’s premeditation (though that’s not 100% clear). He confessed over and over without getting any deal for his confessions. According to many sources, Misskelley continued to confess his involvement in prison. But freeing Damien Echols, a dangerous psychopath who masterminded the killings and bragged about them afterward? Freeing Jason Baldwin, the one who actually wielded the knife to torture and mutilate two young boys? Both of them deserved to spend the rest of their lives in prison.