If you are familiar with this case, then you know that the men convicted of killing three young boys in 1993 were released from prison today. For most people involved, it is either Casey Anthony Part 2 or, finally, justice for three young men that were wrongly convicted.
I think two things really set this crime apart. First, the heinous and brutal way the three children were murdered. (Wiki the West Memphis 3 for an overview of the case). Second, a very well made documentary about the murders, Paradise Lost, brought attention to the case that otherwise may have never been heard of outside of Arkansas. (There was also a follow-up documentary as well).
As with most crimes that end up being sensationalized, people quickly chose sides. Many trusted the local police department to do their job effectively and when they said that Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley did it, that was enough. Also, the prosecution playing up the fact that these young men listened to heavy metal and were clearly Satan worshippers, well, in small town America…case closed. (Echols erratic behavior in court and occasional goth style only fueled those fires).
On the other hand, particularly after the Paradise Lost documentary was shown, another group of people decided that these three were simply being railroaded because they were easy prey. The local police wanted this horrible crime solved and closed as soon as possible and chose some young misfits to pin it on. The evidence was circumstantial, at best, and certainly there was room for doubt. Many identified with the young men, including several celebrities, and brought additional attention to the case.
That is my relatively non-biased introduction to the case. I have read about the case and watched the documentaries and here is my opinion. Like everyone else except the three accused or the actual killer(s), I haven’t a clue as to who did it. I thought the first documentary was fairly balanced and asked some important questions. The follow-up was very biased towards the defendants and that was disappointing to me. So, for either side to say definitively that they know the truth is flat out bullshit. Why people insist on choosing sides as if this were a sporting event (ala Casey Anthony, OJ, Robert Blake, etc) is very odd to me. Having an opinion is one thing; saying with certainty you factually know what happened must just be an ego thing.
What I do know is that for the prosecutor to basically throw in the towel 18 years later is disgusting. All along, the case should have been re-tried. If the West Memphis 3 were innocent, so be it. Release them and continue the investigation. Three children were brutally murdered and their murderer(s) need to be brought to justice. People that harm children need to know that they will never be free from pursuit. Why the Arkansas State Police and FBI were not brought in in the first place is a complete mystery to me. Maybe children in Arkansas are considered disposable…especially poor ones from West Memphis.
Now, with all sides firmly entrenched and entirely too many people looking to make a buck off of this story, the truth may well never be known. Also, I suspect every convict that has spent 15 or more years in jail is now asking his or her attorney to ask for a plea deal. This case just reeks of incompetence and stupidity from top to bottom. No one should be happy with how this has turned out. If the West Memphis 3 are truly innocent, their lives were basically ruined. If they are indeed guilty, they can laugh all the way to the bank. In the end, three little boys died a horrible death and nothing will change that. Why justice for them is not worth fighting for is yet another complete mystery to me.
For Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch, I am sorry that the people in life (and death) who should have protected you, did not.