West Memphis Three Set Free After 18 Years in Prison … After Pleading Guilty to First Degree Murder Charges
The WEST MEMPHIS THREE, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, set free and released today after pleading guilty to first degree murder in the death of three 8 year olds in West Memphis. Following their admissions of guilt, the three were sentenced to time served. Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin were convicted in 1993 of murdering and mutilating the bodies of Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers. However, the WM3 took the “Alford plea” in which they could continue to claim their innocence but pleaded guilty in exchange for an 18-year sentence and credit for time served.
All members of the West Memphis Three were released today after pleading guilty to first-degree murder charges in the 1993 deaths of three West Memphis 8-year-olds.
Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley stood before Circuit Court Judge David Laser and entered the guilty pleas while maintaining their innocence in the case. Echols and Baldwin pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. Misskelley pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
They were given credit for time served and a 10-year suspended sentence for their pleas in an agreement with prosecutors.
However, before you jump on the Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder band wagon that that the three were innocent of any crimes, one best look at some of the great investigative work done by crime blogger, Blink on Crime. Sure there were screw ups, but there was also more than what the WM3 and their mouth pieces are saying. More at Blink on Crime including the previous investigative work regarding the murder case of the West Memphis Three, HERE and HERE.
One thing that would need to be considered, if the defense had such a strong case, if the evidence and DNA was so tainted, if there were so many errors committed by law enforcement in the investigation, if there were witnesses who’s stories changed, if the West Memphis Three were so innocent and had all these things going for them, why did they plead GUILTY TO MURDER?
Sadly, in the end it would not appear to be justice for Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers. It was a reduction of risk for the WM3 to get out of prison and a money decision by the State. This was not justice … it was risk management on both sides.