Memphis Three Freed After Nearly Two Decades in Prison
Viewed as innocent by most, the Memphis Three have been freed for murders most believe they never committed.
There was little notice to the monumental event that occurred today, and to many it seems unbelievable, but after 18 years in prison Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelly jr. walked free from prison.
In 1993 the three men, were sent to prison for the murders of Steven Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore, three young boys brutally murdered in an area known as Robin Hood Hills. What makes the story more compelling, and amazing to most, was the fact that there was little proof that Baldwin, Echols and Misskelly had committed the crimes.
The story of the killing was revealed in the 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At The Robin Hood Hill and a sequel a few years later. The films directors were keen to show all sides of the horrifying murders, but for most, the one thing that most viewers walked away with was the fact that the wrong people had gone to jail.
Today the men referred to as the “Memphis Three” walked free from prison after entering a submission known as the Alford plea. The three have always maintained their innocence, and while two were destined to spend the rest of their lives in prison Echols was sentenced to death. Today’s plea’s saw the men plead guilty on three counts of murder in order to be immediately freed. In pleading guilty, they are freed on the basis of time served. But it does however sadly mean the men must take responsibility for the killing.
The killings in 1993 are by far the most disturbing killings in American history, the three murdered boys were subjected to the most extreme mutilation that included having their genitals removed and forced into the mouths of others. The boys were left naked in a small stream in the middle of woodland. The Memphis Three were quickly named as suspects in the murder, seemingly because all were obsessed with the band Metallica and interested in devil related activities.
In 2007 new evidence was submitted to the courts, a hair found in a ligature on the body of Moore was found to be consistent with that of Steven Branch’s stepfather Terry Hobbs, though nothing came from the evidence, and Hobbs was never looked into.
One of the biggest campaigners to get the Memphis Three released came from a surprising source, one of the victim’s own parents John Mark Byers, who had been campaigning for their release for years. “They’re innocent, they did not kill my son” he said at the hearing. Byers believes it is a travesty that the men are released without being vindicated. Celebrities including Johnny Depp have also been involved in campaigns to free the men.
Tonight for the first time in nearly two decades the three men will sleep in their own beds, the beds they last slept in as boys themselves. This writer firmly believes that we have not heard the last from these men, the question of course is will they be allowed to live a normal life, or will they be hounded by the very people that helped to put them in prison in the first place.