Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

Call TMZ at (888) 847-9869 or Click Here


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."


No Avatar

Home Skillet    

This story confuses me. So, they're admitting to murder then being let go? When did Jose Baez take over this case?

1129 days ago


John Mark Byers has been smiling all these years, cause he's the murderer. Toothless psycho.

1129 days ago


I saw both do***entaries and towards the end of the second, the evidence was pointing somewhat away from Byers. A recent "48 Hrs. Mysteries" seems to be the most up to date investigation into the current status.

It appears that the step father one of the murdered boys could be the target. The new DNA evidence that was tested was HIS hair found in a ligature used at the crime scene. HE WAS NEVER INTERVIEWED BY THE POLICE UNTIL A FEW YEARS AGO. He admits he was in the pond area looking for the boys that night they went missing. He claims he didn't see his step son the day of the murders but new eye witness testimony has been discovered. 2 female neighbors remember seeing the boy playing in their backyard hours before the murder. One told the boy to go home, which was overheard by the boy's step father, Terry Hobbs. He then called the kid home. The boy's mother now suspects him, saying he would beat her 2 kids with a belt every other night.

The facts will come out whether the state likes it or not. The victims won't get money from the state, but a movie will probably be in the works. I commend Johnny Depp for having the guts to put his rep on the line for those kids when nobody else cared.

1129 days ago


BTW, as long as one of the victims refuses to admit guilt, the state is still on the hook. I wonder which one it is.

1129 days ago


They are being offered the 'deal' that if they admit guilt they will be let go because the state and city know they never should have been arrested. I'd guess after 18 yrs of your life being spent on death row (and these young men were just teens themselves) for something you didn't do, you might take the deal as well. After all they got screwed once by corrupt cops, DA, Satanic Specialists.. why should they believe they won't get screwed again. I'm sure that was mentioned.. admit guilt and go free or go to trial and risk being found guilty again.. it's a head game and if they plead guilty they can not sue. It's possible they might not even be able to make money of interviews and stuff since that would be benefiting from their crime.. and they plead guilty so... by the way people even the parents of the boys have come out to say they also do not believe these guys are guilty and that there was alot of error on the parts of police and the investigation.

1129 days ago


Fatty: 3 hours 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.
Thank you i appreciate the informative post.
It is disgusting how they are being backed into a corner in order to gain how their freedom. However as evidenced by your post people know the truth and the men will get their freedom.

1129 days ago

Chun LI    

Let go.smh

1129 days ago


I am born and have always lived in this area and unless you know the whole story from being a local or a lot of research, you really have no clue what you are talking about. Johnny Depp and Wynona Ryder, Pearl Jam, and others were right for supporting the West Memphis Three. They were innocent and wrongly convicted and Arkansas Prosecutors know it and are just trying to save face, avoid charges of gross misconduct during the trial and avoid compensating these men after ruining their lives.
In 1993, this was as big as the Salem Witch hunts. They were basically convicted because they were different and Damien Echols was goth before goth was considered cool, especially in a po-dunk town West Memphis, only a few miles from me. After the murders, they had no solid evidence, the police did not look at any other suspects even though a man had went into Bojangles, a fast food restaurant which was not far from the crime, covered in blood, and washed himself off in their restroom and left it bloodstained all over. The trial should have been ruled a mistrial as their was jury misconduct during the trial. They were denied to other appeals and this was their last chance. There was no DNA testing at the time even though DNA was collected at the scene. Recently, DNA testing was conducted and completely exonerated the West Memphis Three. Damien Echols appeal was going to the Supreme Court in October and would have certainly been overturned. The other two convictions would have also been overturned shortly thereafter. Arkansas prosecutors did not want to admit to the gross negligence in this case, the investigation was so biased, and that these men who were only boys at the time were wrongfully convicted. By them not being proved innocent, they will not be able to sue the state which is a huge shame. This was a terrible tragedy for everyone involved. Even the parents of the boys who were murdered do not think these men were the killers. We all say we would not plead guilty to a crime we did not commit, but look how the first trial went. They should not have been even charged, less on convicted. They just do not want to take a chance of losing their last chance of an appeal. Think of it this way, do you think that the state of Arkansas would honestly release three men who supposedly tortured, mutilated, and killed three young boys if they thought they were guilty???? They know they are innocent and they screwed up. Its only too bad that the West Memphis Three were also robbed of their lives and their youth because of a witch hunt.

1129 days ago


Duh.. they are making them admit guilt so that they can't sue the **** of of Tennessee for false imprisonment. Even if I was innocent I would cop a guilty plea to get the hell out of jail too.

1129 days ago


Did you ever think they could be getting free finally? All of the latest evidence after DNA testing proves they ARE IN FACT INNOCENT! I guess we will find out tomorrow but TMZ you really piss me off when you post a full of crap claim and wrong the next day! WHY would they all three get their personal belongings and be escorted out of prison hours after this claim you make. Sounds like it's a good day to smell some fresh air after being in prison for almost 2 decades for crimes they DID NOT COMMIT!

1129 days ago


What a joke.

1129 days ago


This story has to be BS, They have a new court date in DEC of this year with new DNA testing.... TMZ what sourse do you have?!

1129 days ago


The reason they have to confess is so the state wont have to pay them for wrongful conviction. Not because they think they did it

1129 days ago


WOW! What a judicial system this country has. You live on taxpayer money in prison, you con Hollywood celebrities into crying out about your "innocence", you deny you did anything for years and years, then you admit guilt and you're free to go home. Who's the moron you decided this?? What a joke. So now they can go do this to some other kids!

1129 days ago


While I understand the legal reasons behind the admission of guilt, it really disappoints me that this is part of the deal. Just admit the state screwed up and be done with it.

1129 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web