While watching the HBO Documentary “Paradise Lost”, I saw the horrific murder cases of three second grade boys at West Memphis Arkansas. The suspected murderers were Jessie Misskelley, Jr., Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols, their ages were seventeen, sixteen, and eighteen. As a motive for the murders the prosecution believed they were performed as a satanic ritual. After an intense trial each of the teenagers were found guilty by the jury, although there was a fairly large lack of evidence. The prosecution was under a great amount of stress from the community and others to find the ones responsible. Damien Echols was given the death penalty, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. was sentenced to life imprisonment plus two twenty-year sentences, and Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life imprisonment. I think the life sentences were appropriate for the crimes they were accused of, if they were in fact guilty of them.
Jessie Misskelley, Jr. was tried first, separate from Echols and Baldwin. Misskelley was tried separately because of his confession during his police interrogation. Misskelley's trial had a lot of controversies. First off the defense brought in Dr. Richard Ofshe, a professional on untruthful confessions. Ofshe testified that the recorded interrogation of Misskelley, was an example of police coercion. The confessions of Misskelley were also inconsistent with themselves and the details about the location and victims. Misskelley was allegedly mentally handicapped in some way as well, which would have made his confession less credible. I think he very well may have been mentally impaired in some way, and he could have just said whatever he thought the detectives wanted to hear so he could go home. However the jury thought there was sufficient evidence to convict him. Misskelly was convicted of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder on February 5th, 1994.
Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were tried together a few weeks...
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