Through a rather confusing legal maneuver, the “West Memphis Three” finally leave jail Aug. 19, after serving nearly two decades in an Arkansas prison for the murder of three boyscouts.
Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. were all convicted of the killings in 1993, despite what many regard as a gross lack of evidence. The question over their guilt prompted three different HBO documentaries, including the landmark original, “Paradise Lost,” and rallied celebrity support from the likes of Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, and Henry Rollins.
Reuters reports that their release was contingent upon a change in their pleas, and the previous convictions were not completely overturned. Instead, the trio will continue to maintain their innocence while acknowledging that there was enough evidence against them for a murder conviction.
In a press conference, the three stated that they would continue to work to prove their innocence from outside prison walls.
The Wall Street Journal spoke with “Paradise Lost” director Joe Berlinger, who seemed quite pleased with the development.
“What greater gift to a filmmaker than to see their work actually having real world impact,” says Berlinger, who thought he had completed work on the third installment of “Paradise Lost,” set to premiere on HBO in January 2012. “Now we’re in that funny position and wonderful opportunity of having a much happier ending.”