Last night, rumors started to spread that two of the “West Memphis Three” were going to be released from prison. However, today it was confirmed that all three have been released after being held 18 years following their conviction of the murder of three boys in Arkansas.
According to NPR, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are being released because new DNA evidence has raised questions and because prosecutors believe it would too difficult to prevail in a new trial because of how much time has expired since the crimes occurred. As part of the deal, the three are giving up the right to sue the state of Arkansas and acknowledge that there was enough evidence to have found them guilty in the earlier trials. So in a sense, the three are admitting to part of the guilt. You can read a full statement from the lead prosecutor in the case over at TMZ.
Many believed that they were unjustly sentenced due to their love of metal, belief in satan and their appearance. Though they’ve received a large amount of support from the metal community, many figures outside of metal have shown their support as well. Apparently Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines arrived at the courthouse for the hearing, while Metal Sucks discovered that director Peter Jackson “‘played a leading role” helping the three’s case financially and legally for the past seven years.
While it still seems odd that they were found guilty, we’re glad to see the West Memphis Three receiving justice.