TMZ

Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

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

WEST MEMPHIS 3

Two Men will 'Admit Guilt'

In Exchange for Freedom

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

0818-west-memphis-three-2BN
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.

update_bar
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."



179 COMMENTS

No Avatar
76.

Sharon    

These guys are as innocent as innocent can be. Even the parents of the boys that were killed admit that the West Memphis 3 were not the ones that took their children's lives. The judicial system is so messed up that they are going to have to plead guilty to gain their freedom that has been taken away for the last 18 years. DNA at the scene was matched to the step-father of one of the boys killed. None of the WM3 men had their DNA anywhere around the murder scene. I hope this doesn't mean that the step-father also walks away from this crime. Justice for those little boys is in the real murder/murders being put behind bars forever.

1058 days ago
77.

Don Alex    

The state of Arkansas just doesnt want to admit that theyve had three innocent men locked up for 20 years, and they dont want to have another trial that they are sure to lose. They sure wouldnt be accepting a deal like this if they had any sort of solid case against the men. Free them!

1058 days ago
78.

Jen     

TMZ - I am very disapointed in you!!! When it comes to writing about real news you suck at it WOW mabey the writer of thsi article should have done some resaearch I did I have researched this case since it was on True Crime with aphrodite Jones to find out the real facts. The evidence found out the crime scene proves that the boys did not murder the three younger boys. ("Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are expected to appear in court Friday morning before Judge David Laser, who is slated to preside over an evidentiary hearing later this year"). (( "The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday Nov. 4, 2010 ordered a judge to consider whether newly analyzed DNA evidence might exonerate three men." ) It's quite clear after research the boys were co-ersed by police into confessing. One Jessie as a matter a fact was told his family would no longer be poor and that they would receive money

1058 days ago
79.

WestTNchick    

You Hollywood folks don't know they are innocent because y'all aren't from the south. Do you really think Arkansas wants to admit they wrongly imprisoned these guys? Of course TMZ would have a conservative nutjob spin on this...I'm sticking to real news like CBS and CNN...lol

1058 days ago
80.

Jen     

I demand TMZ that you update this story with legit facts AFTER you actually research it- Havery I'm disgusted!!!!! Obviously your normal celeb gossip reporters can't handle actual news because they are too uneducated to write an article with legit facts!

1058 days ago
81.

Andrea    

Hey TMZ! I love you guys, but you got a very important fact incorrect in this story. Damien Echols was sentenced to death, no life. :)

1058 days ago
82.

Jen     

http://wm3org.typepad.com/blog/2011/08/hearing-scheduled-in-west-memphis-child-murder-appeals-wm3.html

This site has legit facts people!

1058 days ago
83.

jaye    

None of this makes sense, including the update. How is it that 'they should never have been arrested?' I'll be waiting for the NEXT update where TMZ will explain what the hell they're talking about.

1058 days ago
84.

Kelly    

Just for the info, Jessie and Jason got life sentences, Damien got the death penalty. There's a gag order in effect, so a rep for John Mark Byers shouldn't even be talking about it. And why after all this time, with new DNA evidence coming out regularly showing that they didn't do it, would they suddenly admit to it?

1058 days ago
85.

Fat Mike    

It's their own fault they're in prison. I'll never forget the evil demeanour Echols showed when he said something along the lines of "when children of West Memphis think of the boogeyman I want them to see my face"
That guy is pure evil. God help his new neighbours, because I can guarantee he will kill again. I know quite a few killers and they are all very personable people, just like Damien. They're the type of person you would love to have a drink with, just like Damien.
Celebrities should stick to make believe, and stay out of politics and law

1058 days ago
86.

Cujeaux    

This was reported by Rueters today. It appears that the families may have been given some info as to why they are being called to this hearing. Byers probably blabbed it to the local press.


The Craighead County Circuit court in Jonesboro, Arkansas, will "take up certain matters pertaining to the cases" of convicted murderers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., according to a statement issued by Craighead County Circuit Judge David N. Laser.

Last month, a status report on new DNA evidence was filed in Craighead County court. It failed to link the crimes to the men convicted in the murders, advocates said at the time.

Laser on Friday will hold one private session in chambers followed by a public session with victim families, family members of the defendants, and media.

Echols is now awaiting execution on Death Row for the murders. Baldwin and Misskelley are serving life sentences. All three have now served about 18 years in jail.

The murders of the Cub Scouts -- Steven Branch, Christopher Byers and James Michael Moore -- rocked the community of West Memphis. Police called the murders "satanic" in nature because the children's naked bodies had been bound and mutilated.

The West Memphis Three, who were teenagers at the time of the murders, have always maintained their innocence in the deaths of the boys in the Arkansas-Tennessee border town.

Prison officials confirmed that the three men were turned over to Craighead County officials from the Arkansas Department of Corrections on Thursday.

"Craighead County officials picked them up around midday from ADC with all of their possessions," Shea Wilson, a prison spokesman, told Reuters.

This led to speculation on the internet among West Memphis Three advocates that a release for two, or all three, could be announced as part of a deal to include a new trial.

The judge issued a gag order for both sides in the case several months ago. So attorneys for the West Memphis Three and the Arkansas Attorney General would not comment on Thursday.

1058 days ago
87.

Shanky Dog    

If they make the statement that they did it . They wont be able to sue the state.

1058 days ago
88.

af    

Jessie recanted his confession and Jason refused to cut a deal with prosecutors, so I'm skeptical about this story.

1058 days ago
89.

Don Alex    

Yeah, I can really see that SOME of you know that the hell you are talking about ... NOT! Do us a favor, and if you know nothing about this case, then keep quiet. After 20 years in a metal box with no hope, who knows what you would admit to. Maybe even something you were actually guilty of, unlike these three. FREE THEM!

1058 days ago
90.

USArmy    

Hollywood pinheads who should keep their mouths shut when they don't know a darn thing but have a feeling. They continue to take the side of killers instead of the victims.

1058 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web