When Fear Meets Failure

West Memphis Three Freed!

West Memphis ThreeOne of the saddest, most horrible stories I could ever imagine finally got a new chapter last week. On the surface, it’s incredibly good news.  After 18 years, 3 men  were released from prison after serving those years for an unspeakable crime.  However, the forensic evidence suggests that it was virtually not possible these 3 did it. And the state of Arkansas has known it for years.

In May of 1993, three 8-year-old boys were found murdered and mutilated in a drainage ditch.  I’m not going to rehash, because I feel most are ,at the very least, familiar with the story.

The 3 Victims

In less than a month, the 3 teenagers were arrested for the crime.  And then quickly tried, and convicted.  In fact, Echols, “the ringleader,”  was given the death penalty whilst the other 2 were given life sentences.

I remember all of this so clearly.  I will even admit that when this story first hit the news, I was not at all convinced of their innocence. However,  that being said, I was always baffled at how they could have been convicted with the level of incompetency on the part of the investigation from start to finish.  The police messed up the crime scene, they did not follow procedures, they’ve lost evidence.  While I understand that a crime of this magnitude was beyond the scope and experience of most cops in this (or *any*) small town, that does not excuse them in the slightest of their ineptitude. Especially when one considers, that they were trying to execute someone.  In my opinion, even if they were completely and absolutely guilty, I didn’t understand then how they could have been convicted.

As soon as I as started reading about the whole affair, in depth,  I was very quickly convinced absolutely of their innocence.  No way those teenage boys did any of that.  I’ve always said it was an intensely personal crime and then several years later, someone from the FBI agreed with me.

Looking back,  it’s a little easier to see how it could have happened.  I was not around for the Red Scare of the 50’s, but I’ve always felt that the Satan Scare was incredibly similar.  From the middle of the 80’s til it’s slow sputtering death in the 90’s, I can now see many parallels in the levels of paranoia, fear, and destruction of lives.  Instead of Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts looking for Communists out to poison people’s minds and drive them to godlessness, this time it was Satan himself.   Evidently, if he wanted a job done right, he needed to do it himself.

In keeping with the tenor of this case since its first horrific hours, the circumstances of the release were bizarre, divisive and bewildering even to some of those who were directly involved.

Under the terms of a deal with prosecutors, Mr. Echols, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Misskelley leave as men who maintain their innocence yet who pleaded guilty to murder, as men whom the state still considers to be child killers but whom the state deemed safe enough to set free.

It’s sad that Arkansas knows they are innocent, but in order to save face, railroaded them into an Alford plea. Mainly to save themselves countless millions of dollars if they sued (and would surely win) for wrongful prosecution and (it seems to me) imprisonment.

“I believe that with all the circumstances that were facing the state in this case, this resolution is one that is palatable and I think that after a period of time it will be acceptable to the public as the right thing,” Mr. Ellington said.

Sorry, Mr. Prosecuting Attorney, but I will never believe it was the right thing.   If they went to trial again, they would be acquitted.  It’s not “palatable” to me at all.  Yes, they are free now and should never have been convicted, but in this instance,  “Lady Justice” sold their innocence down the river rather than plead guilty to her own mistake.


~ by Layla on August 22, 2011.

2 Responses to “When Fear Meets Failure”

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