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Two Men will 'Admit Guilt'

In Exchange for Freedom

8/18/2011 2:25 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Two members of the West Memphis 3 will be released from an Arkansas prison after "admitting guilt" in the deaths of 3 Boy Scouts back in 1993 ... this according to local reports.

The WM3 -- comprised of Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin -- were each sentenced to life in prison for the killings of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers -- whose mutilated bodies were found in a wooded area in West Memphis, Arkansas in May 1993.

For years, Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin have claimed they were 100% innocent of any crime -- and their plight caught the attention of HUGE Hollywood stars like Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder ... who rallied for their release from prison.

There have been several documentaries made about the case ... most of which suggest the men may not have committed the murders.

But now, according to WREG-TV, two of the men -- one of whom is reported to be Echols -- have apparently changed their tune in exchange for their release from prison ... though it's unclear when the men will be released.

It's also unclear WHY the men would be released if they're confessing to such a heinous crime.

2:52 PM: TMZ spoke with a rep for John Mark Byers -- a step-father of one of the victims who was also portrayed as a suspect in the documentary, "Paradise Lost."

The rep tells us John will "definitely" be in court tomorrow -- but calls the situation a "double-edged sword" because "even though they should never have been arrested, a murderer is getting the last laugh."


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Huh, you admit to killing some and are RELEASED from jail. Yeah, makes total sense (SMH).

1164 days ago


so when i commit my next crime i will just admit guilt and be set free. precedent

1164 days ago


I remember. The Dixie Chicks were really hardcore about this. I think they blamed the stepfather for the murders. Anyways, I think it's strange that they would release them early for admitting their guilt. If someone murdered three kids, they shouldn't be getting out of prison ever.

1164 days ago


Let's get a statement from Johnny Depp and Winnona Ryder now!

1164 days ago


THANK YOU TMZ FOR REPORTING THIS! Arkansas is only making them admit to some "guilt" so they can't come back and sue the state. I've been following this case since I was 8 years old. These are the same courts that I'd have to hope to get "justice" in if I ever had to go to court. This is a great day.

1164 days ago


Duh, why would they admit to something they didn't do? To get out of jail. In your archaic legal system, they would be there for decades more, maybe their lives. Now they have a chance.

1164 days ago


"It's also unclear WHY the men would be released if they're confessing to such a heinous crime" they can get out of prison?

1164 days ago


Harvey - you're a lawyer, why would confession even be an option? These guys are inocent. So currious as to why not all three would be let out. WOW... this is huge news for those who've been following this case!! Please keep us posted!

1164 days ago

A Fletch    

Something smells fishy somewhere! Who lets admitted murders go free unless there is more in it for law enforcement. Hmmm, very interesting.

1164 days ago


It's more likely that there will be a plea of "no contest" to the charges, which will not attach with a finding of guilt or innocence, but would end the case for all involved. It would allow the state to save face and avoid facing civil fines for stealing these boys' entire adult lives from them. It's a shame for the victims of this crime, though, who may never have justice. Right, Terry Hobbs?

1164 days ago


The information on this keeps changing by the minute (literally). After 2 decades of denying that they did it (and absolutely no DNA evidence that they did - but DNA evidence of another person was found), I find it hard to believe that they would admit to doing it. I read one article that said they would plead to a lesser charge to be released. The only reason that this deal would happen would be so that the state of Arkansas does not have to pay them for being wrongly imprisoned. I don't think that anyone will know the truth and all of the details until after the hearing tomorrow.

1164 days ago


I don't know how many minutes/hours of my life I wasted listening to Eddie Vedder preach about these idiot's at Pearl Jam shows... That's why rock stars should shut there mouth and just sing!

1164 days ago


Another horrible injustice imposed on these men, who had the prime of their lives stolen by a corrupt police dept. and justice system in Arkansas.

Now they have to let them go because of the DNA evidence that should have been tested decades ago. Forcing them to admit guilt now violates their constitutional rights. I hope whoever made this shady deal gets their feet held to the fire for this.

1164 days ago


This upsets me more than you can imagine. I know that there are MANY #WM3 supporters but if you do your own research based on non biased materials (which is very hard to find these days) then you'd recognize the truth: that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley murdered and mutilated three innocent little boys. Admitting guilt to further your own selfishness isnt good enough, in my opinion. Bad move, Arkansas... bad move.

1164 days ago

some guy    

Just Wiki'd this case. Just last month there was newly tested DNA evidence that did not match the defendants.

I must've either totally forgotten about this case or I've never heard of it. Totally unfamiliar with the West Memphis three.

1164 days ago
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