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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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They are not going to admit guilt, but admit that prosecutors have enough evidence to win a conviction. They will maintain their innocence.

1141 days ago

Doc Brown    

Where's Dexter Morgan when things like this happen?

1141 days ago


Finally! They should never have spent a day in jail. 18 years gone and Echols having spent it on death row. Such a travesty. I hope they do whatever they need to in order to get out and save their own lives. The trial judge is the one who should be doing a life sentence for the miscarriage of justice in this case.

Never forget that Mark had all his teeth pulled after biting those kids that he killed. Not to mention his DNA all over the place.

1141 days ago


It is a shame the system is so openly corrupt that the state will force them to admit guilt rather than concede to
the innocence factor. Wether Arkansas or Florida thse two states have such a GOOD OLE BOY justice system that it is always an unfavorable outcome. These men need released with no further mention of guilt or innocence, just an admission that the COURTS WERE IN ERROR has to always be covered up.
Florida's 1st Judicial District s the most corrupt egregious nasty system to ever get caught in. Stay away fro ARKANSAS and PENSACOLA Florida.

1141 days ago


TOTALLY wrong, TMZ...

They are NOT admitting guilt... They are possibly making a tentative deal that would include a legal maneuver allowing the men to maintain their innocence claim while admitting that prosecutors likely have enough evidence to win a conviction...

Read the TRUE details here...

1141 days ago


More updates on the Echols guilty plea:

1141 days ago


I never thought and still do not believe that they did it. Why would they release them? I mean Damien was on death row!!!!! I would assume that Jessie is the other one being released since Jason already coped a plea from the beginning. The step father is a crazy man but I don't think he did it...he also passed a polygraph.

1141 days ago

Nick Brittin    

This article is factually inaccurate; the young men are NOT admitting guilt or confessing to anything. Readers, please look at the "Alford" defense, before you believe what you read here.

1141 days ago


2 options the way I see it
#1 - guilty as sin
#2 - innocent - willing to live with the stigma, hate and doubt on peoples faces - grabbing what they feel is their best chance to get out of prison and have a life
at least that is how I simply break it down

1141 days ago


They are taking an Alford plea which means you maintain your innocence, but agree a trial could possibly find you guilty. After 18 years in prison, this is a good deal because you walk free immediately. There is a LOT of behind the scenes politicking behind this plea, and it is mostly to save face for the State and several players who have political ambitions.

1141 days ago


People are so quick to judge. Being outraged by "murderers" walking free in a case you aren't familiar with is just ridiculous. If any of you actually took the time to research what you're rambling about, you'd realize how little evidence there is suggesting they killed those boys. And of course by little, I mean none.

1141 days ago


Seems to me if they DID do it, why would they be offered freedom from the courts??? Unless it's a trick to get them to confess?
If they DIDN'T do it, why would the courts make them confess???
Sounds about as bizarre as it gets!!!
Some corrupt court is trying to save face? By FURTHER corrupting justice?
Must need to find an equally corrupt judge to approve this travesty!!!!

1141 days ago


That's rich that John Mark Byers said that since he is one of the people who more than likely actually did it.

1141 days ago


This sounds totally ridiculous. This guys are completely and totally innocent. I have followed this case for years. Why admit it now...almost 20 yrs later? And if they did, why the hell would they let them out of jail. I call BS!

1141 days ago


If they admit guilt then they can't sue for wrongful conviction / false imprisonment. Justice failed the victims and the WM3, but at least one wrong is being righted.

1141 days ago
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