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West Memphis 3

RELEASED FROM PRISON

8/19/2011 10:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

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All three members of the West Memphis 3 have been released from prison.

The judge had a chambers meeting with each of the defendants ... and while each of the three men is still legally guilty of the crimes, the judge explained, "in the interest of justice, they will go free."

The lead prosecutor in the case just released a statement saying, "Just moments ago Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. pled guilty to the murders of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore."

The statement continues, "Since the original convictions, two of the victims' families have joined forces with the defense, publicly proclaiming the innocence of the defendants. The mother of a witness who testified about Echols's confession has publicly questioned her daughter's truthfulness, and the State Crime Lab employee who collected fiber evidence at the Echols and Baldwin homes after their arrests has died.

In light of these circumstances I decided to entertain plea offers that were being proposed by the defense. I NEVER considered ANY arrangement that would negate the verdicts of those two juries. Guilt or Innocence was NEVER ON THE TABLE.

Today’s proceeding allows the defendants the freedom of speech to SAY they are innocent, but the FACT is, they just pled GUILTY. I strongly believe that the interests of justice have been served today."


The statement continues, "On behalf of the State I have preserved the verdicts of those juries and averted more prolonged and costly trials and appeals in this case.

The legal tangle that has become known as the West Memphis Three case is finished.

I have spoken with members of the victims’ families and I can tell you they are still suffering the loss of their little boys. Neither this nor any other proceeding can bring those children back.

As part of the plea and sentence negotiation the defendants were sentenced to a period of 18 years with credit for time served. Those sentences will be followed by 10 years SIS or Suspended Imposition of Sentence.

These defendants have spent roughly half of their lives in prison. I pray that during this time they have been rehabilitated.

The defendants are now at liberty and will remain at liberty so long as they do not violate the terms and conditions of the Suspended Imposition of Sentence agreement. ANY violation of these terms WILL RESULT in an additional 21 years of prison."
152 COMMENTS

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1.

Scatoma    

I want to cry!

980 days ago
2.

OMG    

OMG are you kidding me! What about their victims?

980 days ago
3.

Sonja    

OMG.. they got screwed because the cops failed to every catch the killers. NO physical evidence ever linked these three to the crime, DNA and bite marks do not match these three innocent guys.. they were convicted because of a hours long coerced confession from a 16yr old with an IQ of 72. The spokesman for the prosecution just admitted it was to prevent a civil suit against the state and even called up a similar case that cost a state 14 million. So the real killers will now never be caught because the state, in it's rabid desire to convict, locked onto these three teens at the time, after all one was a Wiccan and the Satanic Occult Specialist said the killings were part of a Satanic ritual. For all you saying go read, take your own advice and go read the actual do***ents and transcripts.

980 days ago
4.

Noname    

Seems like killing babies and getting away with it seems to be all the rage now.

980 days ago
5.

i said lesbians...    

now FREE HAT MCCORMICK!!!

980 days ago
6.

Trevis Miho    

Who's d*ck did they suck at the courthouse to have this happen? It's huntin' season - I want the corny looking one in the middle's head on my living room wall.

980 days ago
7.

Laura    

I never thought they were guilty. I don't understand why they would have to say they are guilty to be allowed to go free... kinda odd. I hope the victims famlies find peace.

980 days ago
8.

slimlines    

This is the best news I've heard in a while- good for them, while their lives will never be "normal" again I hope they can find some happiness and peace as they begin to rebuild their lives!

980 days ago
9.

Tiffany    

It's about time. This should have happened years ago.

980 days ago
10.

toad    

I have read SEVERAL articles on this, watched biographies and read books. I can post with confidencet that the WM# were always innocent, and it's a tragedy that West Memphis does this to them just to cover their huge mistakes. The only DNA at the crime scene besides the victims were the step Dad's and his friend. No DNA or solid evidence EVER was found from the WM3, only the step Dad and friend. These guys deserve to be free, and all charges dropped. People, research if you think they are guiltly.

980 days ago
11.

TulipSniper    

Rehabilitated of what?? They didn't do anything. The only reason they had them "admit guilt" is so they can't sue the state of Arkansas.

980 days ago
12.

beth    

I would never plead guilty to something like this if I didn't do it. Even to get out or prison. Never.

980 days ago
13.

jtw    

These celebrities have supported 3 men who just pled guilty to murdering children--- but I'm sure they will be leading the parade to keep them out of their neighborhood if all three moved into the house next door to them and their children!

980 days ago
14.

duh    

It is great that they finally get to go free. It is just a shame that it had to happen this way. Having to admit guilt just to be released, when you know the state only put that deal on the table for those guys just to prevent them from RIGHTFULLY sueing the living crap out of them. It is ok though, everyone who pays attention to this case famous people included, know that the evidence points to innocence for the three guys and that guilt was only admitted for freedom(as a result of a raw deal from arkansas state)

980 days ago
15.

jaye    

This is f*cked up. If the evidence wasn't reliable, if they found no PHYSICAL evidence to substantiate the charges or the witness statements, if the witnesses lied, let them go. But don't have them say they are guilty and THEN let them go. The legal system if ****ty and doesn't have an ounce of logic. The system would do better with a bunch of chimps and apes running it than lawyers and judges. Rise of the Plant of the Apes makes more sense than this crap.

980 days ago
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