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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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16.

Sonja    

Key word 'deal'... they did what they had to do to get out of jail for something they didn't do. The state knows it or it wouldn't have accepted the deal. Pretty shady though to keep saying they 'plead guilty' since from what I read that is not how the maneuver really works. End of the day three innocent, wrongly convicted teens are now free.

973 days ago
17.

Icebaby... is back dude    

In other news, a sex tape whore is getting married, and they say it's the biggest since the royal wedding. Or, it is a royal wedding. :/

973 days ago
18.

fran    

all I can say I do hope they are innocent, and the real killer or killers will be brought to justice....if that is still possible

973 days ago
19.

St Murphy    

@barb
i totally agree and have watched them as well.i still think it was that retarded father with the brain tumor.something wasnt right about him and the whole knife thing..idk but i do feel an injustice was corrected today.these boys were the "weird" ones in a very small town and would bet anything in a town like that whether ur guilty or not u get blamed for every lil thing.this was in the beginning of the goth days and goths got a very bad rap for a long time.maybe damien played that up a lil to much but that was his personality.most of his stuff was for SHOCK value more than anything.now the only thing they need to work past is having freedom after being in prison for so long.why offer freedom if they DIDNT find more info that lawyers might have found and got them off anyways..makes sense!

973 days ago
20.

alittleunwell    

The now ex-husband of one of the victims is almost certainly the one who killed those boys. The state didn't want to get sued, and these men were treated unjustly once again. Just how many more victims can there be?

973 days ago
21.

jason    

For God's sake TMZ, if you're gonna post a HUGE story like this, get the names right!! It's Echols, not Nichols!! LMAO

973 days ago
22.

Jade    

Does this mean they can't go after Terry Hobbs? The True Crime With Aphrodite Jones special on this case was excellent. She does completely unbiased investigative journalism. That's the go-to if you want to know more about this case. If you are not familiar with this case, you should not be commenting. Praise the Lord, 3 innocent men are finally freed.

973 days ago
23.

boner    

I dont believe a minute of what they said. Karma gets all.

973 days ago
24.

Sonja    

Doubtful Jade, the state has said they now consider the case 'Closed' because of the deal they have their false 'guilty' plea and the boys get 'time served' and are freed.

973 days ago
25.

kt    

I’ve been following the West Memphis Three case for the last couple of years, and I want to make three points (one for each defendant as it were).

First, the unusual nature of the Alford plea, whereas the defendants get to maintain their innocence and gain their freedom in exchange for a guilty plea, is not about justice – it’s about money. The District Attorney said that the primary reason for accepting this plea is so that it would prevent the defendants from pursuing a multi-million dollar civil suit against the state.

This intertwines with my second point – that the District Attorney’s statement that he believes the three men are actually guilty is somewhat like Charles’ comment from yesterday about how defense attorneys don’t want to know if their clients are guilty. In much the same way, I think the District Attorney didn’t want to know that these young men are innocent. When a reporter asked him how concerned he was by the recent evidence that proves the innocence of these young men, he said that this wasn’t as much of a concern to him as the possibility of an overturned conviction and a civil suit.

And lastly, if the state genuinely believed these young men to be guilty, they would not have accepted the Alford plea.

On a certain level, it’s infuriating that these three men had to plead guilty in order to secure their release, but what happened today is probably as good as it was going to get for them because unfortunately, even in the American legal system, justice is never guaranteed. When a person enters the legal system, that person is given the chance at justice, but justice is never automatic.

973 days ago
26.

Laura    

Echols...not Nichols.

973 days ago
27.

Sonja    

Excellent points KT, I also saw the live televised statement and they made it plain as day this 'deal' was all about money.. that they were protecting themselves from a civil suit and he even named some other case where a man (can't remember the name) was acquitted and sued the state for 14 million and won and that they had three who had been in prison for 18yrs now. To me that just screamed that they know damn well they imprisoned the wrong guys and were just looking to cover their a** before the new trial.

973 days ago
28.

Ginger    

Lets hope they all buy a house next to Natalie. She has small children, lets see how she really feels.

973 days ago
29.

SJK    

Where is the video of the prosecution's statement???

973 days ago
30.

Bella7827    

"The plea means that you maintain your innocence but you believe there is a substantial likelihood that a jury will find you guilty so you are pleading guilty per State v. Alford," "The effect of the corresponding finding of guilt by the court is the same as with a straight guilty plea."

"It seems that they want a plea so they can argue the accused are collaterally stopped from challenging their arrest and prosecution in any subsequent civil lawsuit. Probable cause will be established as a matter of law upon the court's acceptance of their Alford pleas."

Basically by forcing these 3 individuals to plead guilty they cannot sue the state for false incarceration.

973 days ago
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