Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, collectively known as the ‘West Memphis Three’ were convicted and put under trial in 1993 for the gruesome murder of three eight year old boys from Arkansas. …
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The initial attempts to find the boys were halfhearted and hasty at best and nothing was located on the first day. The search was continued in the morning the next day and the bodies of the three young boys were found around midday on May 6, 1993 naked, hogtied and dumped in a ditch. One of them had had his genital mutilated; all three had been victims to knife wounds and other lacerations. Further examination of the bodies showed that the boys had been subjected to mutilation before they were killed. Cause of death was determined to be mutilation and drowning. The prosecuting party said that the murders had been committed for a satanic ritual and that Echols was the ring leader. The satanic spin given to the case by the prosecution served to really sensationalize the case in public forums and among the people in general. Echols was subsequently sentenced to the death penalty and Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences. The ‘West Memphis Three’ spent close to two decades in jail before a judge finally accepted their Alford plea and set them free by which time they had spent most of their youth serving behind bars for a crime they did not commit (Sharon 2012; BBC News 2011). When presented with the raw facts, how, one may ask, were three people convicted for such a heinous crime set free just like that almost two decades later? There are actually many possible concrete reasons which emerged in these 20 years and enabled Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin to walk out of the courtroom as free men in 2011. And these are precisely the reasons that I think these men were innocent. And for this reason I will further elaborate upon them in the paper below (BBC News 2011). If the evidence against the ‘West Memphis Three’ is looked at thoroughly and from all the different angles and perspectives, it can be seen that there was a severe lack of concrete physical evidence linking the three men with the three gruesome murders. DNA testing wasn’t an option back then so the police couldn’t possibly have any solid connection between the victims and the men convicted for the murders. It is also to be noted that no personal belongings, blood, skin or hair specimens from the convicted men were found on the victims and furthermore there were no eye witnesses to the crime itself. These three kids were at best fairly inexperienced rookies and would have left behind clues linking them to the murder without a doubt had they committed this crime. This level of scrupulousness in the crime where no clue was left behind indicated the work of an expert criminal, one who knew what they were doing and how to go about doing it. Somebody like that would have left no clues behind, but somebody like that did not fit the description or demographical criteria of these young men (CNN Blog 2011; Elizebath 2011). A defense attorney for the three men said that another reason the blame was pinned on Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin could have been because they were considerably effortless targets. Another reason that is very closely linked with the first one is that during the initial investigations in 1993 these three young men were the best suspects, and for the police to be able to convict them would make a neat little ending to a horrific murder case. Moreover these men were by far the police’s best suspects to pin this crime on. Also, during initial investigations the case was handled in a hasty and disinterested manner where a lot of details were overlooked in the smoked fuelled by the fire of
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