Just a few days ago, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were on hand to film a new ending for their hit HBO documentary series, Paradise Lost. The moment was was when the West Memphis Three“”who had been imprisoned for almost two decades for the murders of three young boy scouts””were set free after DNA testing that didn’t exist when they were convicted proved that none of them were involved.
Some rather prestigious celebrity names were very supportive of the trio, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, and their release, doing everything in their power to see justice done. They include Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins, and Natalie Maines, as well as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh.
As it turns out, Jackson and Walsh have been helping to fund private investigations and forensics experts in hopes of proving the three men’s innocence. And it doesn’t end with their going free because the terms of their release still have many fuming angrily.
In order for the West Memphis Three to go free, they had to agree to the Alford Plea, which basically means that all three of them have to completely agree to admit and stand by the fact that their conviction was legit at the time, stopping them from seeking any compensation from the state of Arkansas for their wrongful 18–year imprisonment.
One of the men, Jason Baldwin, understandably refused such an outrageous and insulting offer at first, but changed his mind when he found out that Echols, who was the only one over the age of 18 when they were convicted and spent the whole time on death row, had some major health issues and needed to get out now. If they would have refused the Alford Plea, the trio would have stayed in prison for another 2–3 years before they could have gotten a retrial, which also could have gone for multiple years especially if the state appealed their innocence being proven.
So, while the West Memphis Three are free there is still work to be done, and Jackson and Walsh are determined to clear their names of these charges completely, as well as find the actual killer or killers, who have walked free all these years.
Be sure to head to Jackson’s Facebook page to read the whole rundown of what’s going on, and why he and Walsh are still upset at the way the state of Arkansas has handled things.
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