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story.lead_photo.caption Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released Friday after striking a plea agreement that allowed them to plead guilty to lesser murder charges while still proclaiming their innocence on the record. ( Benjamin Krain)

An hour after being released from prison Friday afternoon, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin scooted into a dark, tinted-windowed SUV that whisked the two men to Memphis for a hotel rooftop gala with their friends and celebrity supporters. Jessie Misskelley, on the other hand, left the courthouse in his dad’s truck for a more casual neighborhood party with family and friends at his father’s home in Crittenden County.

West Memphis Murders

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Front Section, Pages 1 on 08/24/2011

Print Headline: For 3 freed and in spotlight, legal tethers loosened


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Archived Comments

  • HawgFan
    August 24, 2011 at 7:59 a.m.

    "We knew Baldwin and Echols were going off together." Of course they are, they're planning their next Satanic crime and ritual.

  • LevitiCuss
    August 24, 2011 at 8:28 a.m.

    I hope they pursue a civil case against the state that throws some heat on the ass-hat prosecutors who are responsible for this. Unlike the original case, there is a huge preponderance of evidence that they were wrongly convicted and incarcerated eighteen years ago. And don't forget, the real killer is still out there...

  • WhiteRiverInMyVeins
    August 24, 2011 at 11:19 a.m.

    I just hope and pray, that someone admits to the crime or DNA links someone to being the real killer(s). Rather it be someone off the street or someone that has already been looked at. I am really not sure I know what to believe. But I do know there are some in prison, wrongfully convicted, and later be proven totally innocent. So I just hope one day there will be justice. The law enforcement was under trained and maybe lazy at best. They were ready to convict before the evidence was recovered and messed up a crime scene simply because it caught national attention, which sometimes does help a case. They were in a frenzy and overlooked a lot of evidence that may have painted a different picture. We may never know because of the inadmissible evidence that never came before the jury. Some reason there are still more questions ,than answers, on both sides. Eventually they will meet the master judge and he will decide.

  • Jfish
    August 24, 2011 at 11:23 a.m.

    Levi, once again, they cannot sue the State, that was part of the plea deal. Also, the prosecutors are doing their jobs, just like the defense attorneys. There is no way that you can say that they are absolutely innocent. In most criminal cases where you have a confession that was not coerced (the Rector confession), you are not going to have complete acquittal for the defendant(s). The defense attorneys can posture and talk about "new" dna evidence all they want, but at the end of the day, they cut the best deal for their clients and the prosecutors cut the best deal for the State, that is what attorneys do.

  • HawgFan
    August 24, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.

    Let's not kid ourselves, people. The West Memphis 3 are guilty.

  • ArkansasTraveler31
    August 24, 2011 at 12:10 p.m.

    HawgFan: I encourage you to watch the HBO documentary "Paradise
    Lost" or read Devil's Knot about the case. Our justice system is
    based on the belief of you must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable
    doubt" and if this doesnt convince you that there is reasonable
    doubt in this case then it must be wonderful to be so absolute in
    your convictions.

  • HawgFan
    August 24, 2011 at 1:46 p.m.

    Traveler. I appreciate HBO documentaries and fictional literature as much as the next person, but I would never use these to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused murderer. "In upholding Echols' conviction in 1996, the state Supreme Court noted that two people testified Echols bragged about the killings, an eyewitness put Echols at the scene, fibers similar to the boys' clothing were found in Echols' home, a knife was found in a pond behind Baldwin's home, Echols' interest in the occult and his telling police that he understood the boys had been mutilated before officers had released such details." Things such as this are NOT what the celebrities and defense lawyers want you to listen to. I'm sure they can 'explain away' all the evidence that convicted these guys, and then turn around and tell you that they have 'new' evidence that 'suggests' they are innocent. They're lawyers, very high priced ones I might add, and that's what lawyers do.