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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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31.

Kendra    

Justice! Finally! I live in Jonesboro and was there to witness them being released and the love of the crowd was amazing. There were HUNDREDS of people and all you could hear was clapping and cheering. If you are familiar with the case and all of the FACTS you will know they are innocent and this is a huge day. It's a shame the state doesn't want to admit their faults but they are free none the less which is better than the alternative they were facing.

1076 days ago
32.

theboss    

Jason made me cry. When they said two might be released, my first thought was that Jason maybe refused the plea deal on principle. Apparently he almost did, but took the plea deal on another principle, so that Damien could be off death row. Jason said, otherwise, he would have fought for that not guilty verdict right to the end. Brings tears to the eyes.

1076 days ago
33.

Andy    

Harvey,

Does this set a dangerous president, in that prosecutors might use this to let people out of prison who may be innocent without the risk of massive laysuits against the court? Telling the inmate that we will let you out if you don't sue us!

1076 days ago
34.

Cujeaux    

They got railroaded again. The state knew Baldwin fully intended on going all the way, and it wouldn't surprise me if the prosecutor made the first attempt to strike a bargain, even though they denied it. Baldwin said himself that he agreed to it solely to get Nichols off of death row, so they used Nichols to break him down. Once they found out the DNA belonged to Teri Hobbs, they knew the defense could break him down on the stand.

It's not going to go away though. Now that the legal team for the defense is organized and has the evidence they need, they'll do everything they can to force the state to look at the new evidence - which points to Teri Hobbs and possibly a second person.

I think Misskelley witnessed something or could have had some involvement and tried to cover it up by blaming Nichols and Baldwin. It seems like there would have to be more than one person involved in the killing. The "Bojangles" man is probably in the same prison as Misskelley but nobody will ever know since they lost his DNA.

1076 days ago
35.

Greg    

Harvey what is the whole point behind a "Alford Plea" and when does it come into play?
Is it like I go to the judge and say I am innocence but all the evidence says I'm not, so I'm pleading guilty anyway in hopes for a lesser sentence?

1076 days ago
36.

Cujeaux    

Oops, I meant Echols, not Nichols. Still think it's sh*tty how they weren't allowed individual deals. It was all or nothing. This case stinks to high heaven.

1076 days ago
37.

Sonja    

or maybe you go to the judge and say 'hey some new evidence has come up that could very possibly prove that we've had the wrong three guys locked up for 18yrs. The new trial is in a few months so rather than risk losing, we'd like remind them that we can push back this trial for years, we'd also like to remind them that we convicted them once with no evidence, so we just might be able to do it again... or we can let them go, they can say they are innocent they just have to check of the 'guilty' box as a bit of formality, plus we save the state from being sued for millions of dollars should the jury decide that the DNA evidence showing others at the crime scene means these kids are not guilty after all... what'cha say judge.. win win?

1076 days ago
38.

Mimi    

It sickens me that an innocent man would have been executed for a crime he did not commit. This whole "investigation" against these three poor (literally) teenage boys, two of whom have been shown to have some mental issues was a total miscarriage of justice from the start. And what's worse is the REAL murderer continues to walk free and those three little boys who died continue to have their deaths unsolved. I truly pity these three men. They lost 18 years of their lives because of a witch hunt where idiot cops and detectives were determined to put SOMEONE in jail for this crime and didn't bother focusing on the truth and actual evidence. Even the judges seemed corrupt in this case. What is wrong with this world?? I hope that they can now start rebuilding their lives, happily reunite with their loved ones, and move forward and find peace. I also hope that the families of the victims demand that the investigation be reopened to search for the real killer. Six families lives have been destroyed.

1076 days ago
39.

schohunter    

My mother was the attorney in the original Alford case for which the plea is named. The evidence that those boys were railroaded became pretty evident. I guess this is a way for the state to save face and not have to pay reparations.

1076 days ago
40.

Rich    

To bad they had to plead guilty just to save the Prosecutors ass. These guys deserve a few million each. We certainly don't have justice in this nation. It a bunch of lier lawyers, prosecutors and judges who may frame an innocent person.

1076 days ago
41.

If sense were common everyone would have it.    

Boy. They sure got *dandied* up in prison eh? Heh heh heh. ;)

1076 days ago
42.

Cujeaux    

Echols was in the 11th hour of his appeals. If he didn't have the original verdict overturned, there would be no other appeals allowed and he would have been executed. Too much of a risk to take in a kangaroo court, and too many wasted years fighting it while the crooked lawyers and police continued to cover their tracks.

1076 days ago
43.

LisaL    

Feels like these poor guys just got railroaded again.
Having to take such a deal and not get anything in return except a pat on the back and a "Well, we still think you're guilty.. ya know... just b/c we don't want to admit we were wrong." just really sucks balls. I mean man. I hope these 3 guys get a ton of money from interviews, book deals, movie deals, whatever. Screw Arkansas

1076 days ago
44.

livereater    

no doubt in my mind that 3 murderers were let go today.

hug your family, these 3 will kill again.

1076 days ago
45.

squeakermama    

This entire case has been a joke from the beginning. Now they plead guilty and get to be free? Wow, now that's a legal system that I can trust. I mean aren't these guys doing the system injustice by doing this? In a strange twist they are misusing the system the same way that they claim had been used against them. Sad. Three boys are gone and no body seems to know how or why. RIP boys.

1076 days ago
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