West Memphis 3

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The West Memphis Three is the name given to three teenagers who were tried and convicted of the murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, United States in 1993 by a prosecution team that put forth the idea that the only purported motive in the case was that the slayings were part of a Satanic ritual.[1][2][3]

Damien Echols was sentenced to death, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 40 years (he received two 20-year sentences in addition to the life sentence), and Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The case has received considerable attention. Their supporters believe the arrests and convictions were a miscarriage of justice and that the defendants were wrongfully convicted during a period of intense media scrutiny. The defendants remain imprisoned, but legal proceedings are ongoing.

In July 2007, new forensic evidence was presented in the case, including evidence that none of the DNA collected at the crime scene matched the defendants, but did match Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the victims, along with DNA from a friend of Hobbs' whom he had been with on the day of the murders. The status report jointly issued by the State and the Defense team on July 17, 2007 states, "Although most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offenses, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants." On October 29, 2007, the defense filed a Second Amended Writ of Habeas Corpus, outlining the new evidence.[4]

In September 2008, Judge David Burnett (Circuit Court) denied Echols' application for a hearing on the new DNA evidence. The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral argument on Burnett's decision on September 30, 2010. On November 4, 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Burnett's interpretation of the DNA statute was too narrow and reversed and remanded all three cases for hearings as to whether new trials should be ordered.[5]

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