Wednesday, November 03, 2010


A new trial has been ordered for the 3 boys (now men) convicted of murder of the Robin Hood Hills murders in West Memphis, Arkansas.

In 1993, a police detective with a grudge, a prosecutor with a desire to convict someone quickly, a judge with no respect for boys who seemed to sneer at authority, and a tainted jury pool led to the railroading of 3 innocent boys. Now, they may finally have their first chance at freedom after 18 years on death row.

When 3 young Boy Scouts were brutally murdered, the police detective, under the influence of what we now call 'satanic panic', looked no further than a local non-conformist boy with whom he had a few run-ins named Damien Echols. He claimed the boy, with friends, had committed a ritual killing of three younger boy scouts. No physical evidence tied any of the three accused to the scene; on the contrary, evidence was collected indicating someone ELSE was responsible. But why look at evidence when you have a popular boogey-man to take the fall?

Jessie Miskelley, a mentally retarded boy, was called in for questioning because he was alleged to be aquainted with Damien Echols. In spite of evidence that the boy had been at a wrestling event at the time of the murders, police questioned the minor without his parents' consent and without a lawyer present. The interrogation, which was taped, stopped and started. His 'confession' was allegedly the boy repeating what police told him into a tape recorder. Miskelley claims the police told him that if he repeated what they said, he could see his mother and get some food to eat. He immediately recanted after the questioning.

A third boy, Jason Baldwin, was implicated simply because he knew the two boys and listened to Metallica.

For years, the boys' appeals have come before the same judge that convicted them, David Burnett. He refused to recuse himself and ruled against their appeals, even with DNA evidence that didn't indicate any of the 3, but, instead, indicated that someone else committed the murders. Only now, with the judge winning a seat in the Arkansas Senate, a new judge was able to hear the evidence and has ordered an new trial.

I hope justice will prevail at last and the West Memphis 3 will finally be granted freedom. You can't do anything to make up for 18 years in prison for a crime someone didn't commit, but being granted a new trial is a start. A judge hasn't been selected yet for the hearing. Two of the judges who might be selected were prosecutors in the original trial, so justice might still be a way off.