The West Memphis Three, whose case has been documented in the award-winning films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, as well as the soon to be released Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, were set free today after having served jail time since 1993.
Damien Wayne Echols, who'd been on death row, and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelly, Jr., both serving life sentences, were convicted of brutally slaying three cub scouts in what was believed to be a Satanic sacrifice. Today, they have been granted their freedom, and will maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors had sufficient evidence against them. All three men, who have been behind bars for more than eighteen years for crimes they did not commit, have been placed on probation and face twenty-one years in prison if they are caught doing anything that goes against their probation.
Damien Wayne Echols released this statement after the plea came in.
"This whole experience has taught me much about life, human nature, American justice, survival and transcendence.
I will hopefully take those lessons with me as I embark on the next chapter in my journey and along the way look forward to enjoying some of those simple things in life..."
The West Memphis Three have long been championed by those in Hollywood, and it is speculated that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will soon reveal the extensive resources they have poured into helping these men to freedom, which includes financing private investigators and forensic experts who have helped aid in the case.
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, the two filmmakers behind the Paradise Lost trilogy, were in court today to film the ruling, which will be included in Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory as it makes its Toronto Film Festival debut. The documentary, which picks up with the West Memphis Three ten years after the second film, will arrive on HBO this January.
A teaser trailer for Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory has been released. Check it out below.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory was released December 2011 and stars Gary Gitchell, Jessie Miskelly, Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin, Todd Moore, Diane Moore, Pam Hobbs, Terry Hobbs. The film is directed by Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky.