After learning about a surprise hearing in the case known as the “West Memphis Three,” Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelly, Jr., and Jason Baldwin were released from prison on Friday, August 19, 2011. Misskelly and Baldwin were each serving life sentences while Echols was released from death row.
The release was made possible by a rare legal maneuver known as an “Alford Plea.” With this plea, the defendants acknowledge that the state has enough evidence to convict while maintaining their own innocence. Once the plea was entered, the West Memphis Three were sentenced to time served and released.
While KCADP shares in rejoicing in this news, our hearts go out to the families of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch who were violently murdered at a tender age.
Note: Due to the acceptance of the Alford plea, Echols is ineligible for the official list of exonerees maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Arkansas Times is reporting that the case of the West Memphis Three will have a surprise hearing Friday, August 19, 2011. According to the report, “Families of defendants and victims are expected to be in court, suggesting far more than routine procedural matters are at hand.”
Three men are serving time for the 1993 deaths of Stevie Branch, Christopher Myers, and Michael Moore. Damien Echols was sentenced to death and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly, Jr. are serving life sentences.
Long considered a case of possible innocence, recent developments in the case such as DNA exclusion of those three convicted as well as jury misconduct led an evidentiary hearing being scheduled for later in the year. The August hearing has come as a surprise.
For the article in the Arkansas Times, please visit: http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2011/08/18/breaking-west-memphis-three-hearing-tomorrow