The “West Memphis 3,” a trio of men convicted in 1993 for the killing of three 8-year-old Cub Scouts, have been released after nearly two decades in prison. The men – Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin – pulled off a tricky legal maneuver that allowed them to change their pleas to guilty and maintain their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors likely had enough evidence to convict them. All three will be placed on 10 years’ probation. Echols had been sentenced to death, and Baldwin and Misskelley were serving out life terms.
The trio were the subject of two documentaries, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and the books Blood of Innocents and Devil’s Knot, all of which argued that they were wrongfully convicted. Musicians and celebrities such as Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins, Metallica, Disturbed, Johnny Depp and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines have thrown their support behind the men, with Vedder and Maines showing up at the Craighead County Courthouse in Little Rock this morning for the hearing.