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West Memphis 3

We're INNOCENT

8/19/2011 10:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

0819-WM3-news-conference-BN
The West Memphis 3 just pled "guilty" to murdering three boy scouts in 1993 -- but all three still insist ... they never committed the crime.

Damien Nichols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin appeared for the first time as free men in a news conference today after their court hearing -- in which they pled "guilty" to the murders in exchange for their freedom.

The WM3 accepted a bargain known as an "Alford Plea" -- a "guilty" plea where the defendants still assert their innocence, despite evidence to the contrary.

But Damien and Jessie set the record straight as soon as they introduced themselves -- claiming they served 18 years for a crime they "did not commit." Jason did not immediately comment.

Jason eventually said he did NOT want to take the deal at first -- because he wanted to fight for his innocence in court, no matter how long it took.

But ultimately Jason capitulated -- claiming he took the deal to save his friend Damien from death row.

78 COMMENTS

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1.

mel    

stop stuttering! you are doing a terrible job at explaining why they were let free. it wasn't a GUILTY plea....go read CNN where it's not "always" smut.

1058 days ago
2.

Barb    

I saw both do***entaries and read every book. I never thought that these three were guilty. I believe the authorities needed to solve a case and arrested them because Damien was allegedly a satan worshiper. Good for them!

1058 days ago
3.

Bob    

In most of Europe even mass murderers don't serve 18 years. It will. however, be interesting to see how quickly they are back in jail and for what.

1058 days ago
4.

RyogaVee    

"just pled "guilty""

What?

1058 days ago
5.

thedoctor    

Never heard of these people. Not sure why this is being covered by a celebutard/gossip website like TMZ.

1057 days ago
6.

andre`    

trailer trash thats all you can say

1057 days ago
7.

ToolbandGirl    

WOW! Justice, finally!

1057 days ago
8.

Violette-Blue    

I feel for the souls of those three little boys. No justice for them. Whether or not the West Memphis 3 are really innocent or guilty of this horrific crime. The fact remains that our Justice System has failed yet again.

1057 days ago
9.

UberGG    

You think Harvey wishes he could go to prison, just for a weekend. It'd be like a free weekend on Fire Island.

1057 days ago
10.

Tara    

This day is bittersweet for everyone involved! The State of Arkansas did not have the evidence to convict them again in a retrial which they would have been granted in December of 2011 but they do have the power to prolong this case for another 5 years if they choose to...knowing the Arkansas and their actions in the past they would have delayed as much as possible! There was no DNA evidence that was tested at all that came back to any of the three who were convicted,add that to the fact of jury misconduct,false statements by the states experts etc..and they knew damned well that Arkansas would have had egg on their face and a law suit which would have been in the millions for false imprisonment.At the end of the day these men had a choice,wait around in prison for the next five years or take this plea agreement...they did what was right for them.There isn't any shred of my being that believes that they are guilty and I really hope that they are not only able to lead productive,peaceful lives but that they are able to prove their innocence and have these convictions tossed out !!

1057 days ago
11.

Ace    

Should I watch TMZ instead of Insession from now on for court cases?

1057 days ago
12.

Ro    

I rememeber back in 93-94 when HBO did a do***entary on these boys. The story is so sad but there are so many pieces that didn't make sense. I remember months after the murder happened one of the little boy's (that was murder) father had all his teeth pulled out for some unknown reason. And it came up during the investigation that all the boys had bite marks in the inner thighs, none that matched any of the boys that were being accused. What ever happened to that father and why was he not looked into? Just wondering...I'm not the one to judge, that is God's job, but doesn't the 'justice system' have to look at all scenarios? "What if" (just maybe?) they have the wrong people this whole time?

1057 days ago
13.

Nicole     

It is good they finally have their freedom.but it's a shame what demands the corrupt prosecution made on these INNOCENT individuals.

1057 days ago
14.

Tracy    

Okay...when Damian thanked Jason and they hugged, it brought a tear to my eye.

1057 days ago
15.

Pimpcessa    

Definition of "The Alford Plea":
In an Alford Plea, the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court will pronounce the defendant guilty. The defendant may plead guilty yet not admit all the facts that comprise the crime. An Alford plea allows defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt. One example is a situation where the defendant has no recollection of the pertinent events due to intoxication or amnesia. A defendant making an Alford plea maintains his innocence of the offense charged. One reason for making such a plea may be to avoid being convicted on a more serious charge. Acceptance of an Alford plea is in the court's discretion.

However, in many states, a plea which "admits sufficient facts" often results in the case being continued without a decision and later dismissed. A conviction under an Alford plea may be used as a conviction for later sentencing purposes. However, one state supreme court has held that an Alford plea, unlike a criminal trial, does not provide a full and fair hearing on the issues in the case, and therefore does not preclude later litigation of the issues.

In North Carolina v Alford, the Supreme Court noted that:

"An individual accused of crime may voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly consent to the imposition of a prison sentence even if he is unwilling or unable to admit his participation in the acts constituting the crime *** when *** a defendant intelligently concludes that his interests require entry o*****uilty plea and the record before the judge contains strong evidence of actual guilt"

1057 days ago
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