‘West Memphis Three’ Inspire New Film


Nearly three years after Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley — known as the West Memphis Three — were released from prison after serving 18 years for killing three 8-year-old boys, a crime they always said they didn’t commit, their case will take center stage in a new motion picture drama.


As teenagers, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were convicted of triple murder in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1994. Misskelley confessed to the crime after a 12-hour-long interrogation, implicating Echols and Baldwin, though several of his statements diverged from the evidence. Echols was sentenced to death and the other two were sentenced to life in prison. When the three men were released from prison in August 2011, they were forced to take an Alford plea, meaning they had to plead guilty but were allowed to maintain their innocence.


The case has already been featured in four documentaries, but this will be the first scripted feature about what happened in Memphis two decades ago. Director Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot will hit screens Friday.


The New York Times reports that Echols believes that the attention that he has garnered from the films has had both its positive and its negative aspects. While the attention surrounding the details of the case could help efforts to clear his name, it also forces him to revisit a traumatic time in his life. He said in an interview, “You have to keep talking about it, but at the same time, I’ve reached a point where I’m so sick of this stuff. It’s eaten up 20 years of my life.”


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