Reports: West Memphis 3 to Be Released

A surprise hearing has been scheduled tomorrow for the West Memphis 3 , Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin. A gag order is in place, but WREG reports that two of them, including Damien Echols who was sentenced to death, will be released. Reports are that a plea deal has been arrived at under which all three would plead guilty to lesser charges and two would be released. Some reports say all three would be released immediately. The reports emanate from the families of the murdered youths, who were told about the deal but asked not to discuss it until tomorrow. The three have already been moved from their respective prisons for tomorrow's hearing in Jonesboro:

The Arkansas Department of Corrections says all three have left their prisons and are now in the custody of the Craighead County Sheriff's Office, taking all their belongings with them.

The Court released this statement: [More...]

The court will take up certain matters pertaining to the cases of defendants Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley on Friday, August 19, 2011. One session will be conducted out of public presence with all defendants present, and another session will be conducted in open court. The session conducted in chambers will likely begin at 10 a.m., followed by a public session, which will begin about 11 a.m. Space will be limited for the public session, first to the parties, counsel, and court personnel, then to family members of the victims and family members of defendants, with remaining seating to be occupied by media representatives and the public. There will be approximately fifteen (15) minutes between the chamber session and open session for media and public to be seated.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a new evidentiary hearing in the case which was set for December. The hearing could have resulted in new trials being ordered. No DNA links to the WM3 to the murders.

The WM3 website has this description of the injustices in the case, as taken from their February, 2011 brief. If you are not familiar with the case, here's their summary.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Fantastic news about the release... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 06:34:54 PM EST
    I hope the charges they pled to were along the lines of spitting on the sidewalk, not felonies.

    I watched Paradise Lost (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by free the wm3 on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 10:40:37 PM EST
    when it was first released.  I had just turned 17, and I remember being shocked not only by the blatant miscarriage of justice but that I could easily could have been Damien Echols.  I have regularly donated to their legal defense fund and ordered books for Damien through his Amazon account.  Here's to hoping that I don't need a 4th Free the WM3 shirt.

    Crying Shame (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 09:15:34 AM EST
    This seems to me to be an extortion for their freedom. "Plead guilty and we will let you go, insist on your innocent, and remain in jail."

    To me if they are letting someone who was on death row, and two lifers out, they don't believe they did the crime.  So why make them cop to anything, they have served over 15 years.

    I read that one (none / 0) (#4)
    by txpolitico67 on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 11:00:59 AM EST
    Eddie Veder, of Pearl Jam fame, is in AR to witness the proceedings.