News Article – The Release of the WM3
by Anna Denejkina
West Memphis Three is Finally Set Free Following 18 Years of Imprisonment
Written for Voltage Media
Originally published on August 21, 2011
Following 18 years of incarceration, Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley – collectively known as the West Memphis Three – have been set free on the morning of Friday, August 19th, after a plea agreement resulting in the immediate release of the three men.
The agreement stated that Jason, Damien and Jessie were to essentially plead guilty in exchange for their freedom, whilst maintaining their innocence in the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, resulting in the men’s 1994 convictions.
During a press conference following the release of the WM3 – available below – an admittedly shocked and overwhelmed Damien Echols, who was on Arkansas’ death row, stated that the guilty plea is “not perfect by any means, but at least it brings closure to some areas and some aspects,” continuing to affirm that Jason, Jessie and himself can and will continue to bring new evidence and investigation to clear their names.
Jason Baldwin expressed that this was not justice, however added that his acceptance in the deal was due to the reality that “they were trying to kill Damien.”
According to NPR, the three men are being released due to questions raised as part of new DNA evidence, and the belief from the prosecution that “the time that has expired since the crimes makes it too difficult to prevail in a new trial.”
“They get their freedom in exchange for giving up the right to sue the state and acknowledging that the state had enough evidence to have found them guilty in the earlier trials.”
Commented Echols: “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.”