Falsely Accused and Decades in Prison

In West Memphis, Arkansas on May 5th 1993, three men were accused of murdering three eight year old boys. The accused were Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. According to a report filed with the court, no DNA was present at the crime scene from Echols, Baldwin or Misskelley. The three were arrested on June 3rd 1993 without DNA present.
The first to be tried was Jessie Misskelley Junior whom was 17 at the time and mentally challenged, with an IQ of 70, therefore they did not take his statements seriously. He was tried separately from the other two because he was the only one who confessed to the murders, confessing after his 12 hour police interrogation. During his trial, prosecutors asked for Mr. Misskelley to be sentenced to the death penalty, but he instead was sentenced to life, plus 40 years.
Damien Echols, 19, and Jason Baldwin, 16, were tried immediately after Misskelley. During their trial, prosecutors wanted Misskelley to testify against them at their trial but he refused, even after they offered him a reduced sentence if he would say that he saw them kill the boys. Damien Echols was the oldest of the three men accused and was said to be the suspected ringleader of the group. He was singled out against the others because he wore all black, listened to heavy metal music and thought of himself to be a Wiccan (a person who practices witchcraft). Damien Echols was sentenced to die by lethal injection, but the ruling was later changed to life in prison without parole.
During Jason Baldwin’s trial in 1994, prosecutors offered to reduce his sentence if he plead guilty and testified against Damien Echols. Baldwin refused the deal and said he would not plead guilty to something that he did not do. “This is not justice, however, they’re trying to kill Damien Echols,” he said. Baldwin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On August 19th 2011, Baldwin who was 34, Echols, 37, and Misskelley, 35, used the “Alford Plea” which is where they plead guilty to murder while still maintaining their innocence. Judge Laser released them with time served and a suspended 10 year sentence. This is important because it shows how unjust our judicial system is. They accused these men because they dressed and acted different than others.