Balanced perspective?

Last night I got “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three” in the mail.  I started reading it today.  This is considered to be, apart from WM3.org, the heavy reading about this case.  The author, Mara Leveritt, decided to look at the facts of the case objectively, read all of the court documents, transcripts, police reports, etc and compile it into a book, using tons of notation to underline her research.  I am just starting to read it today.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m almost done reading Damien Echols’ book “Almost Home: Volume 1” which is a memoir of his life leading up to his arrest and during the trial etc.  It’s self-published and was written on legal paper so there are errors and it’s kind of like reading a super-long blog entry.  It’s interesting to hear the events described from his end of it.

Anyway, I’m going to read “Devil’s Knot” which is basically in the end, Pro-WM3.  After that I’m going to read “Blood of Innocents: The True Story of Multiple Murder in West Memphis, Arkansas”.  “Blood of Innocents” is considered to be slanted in the opposite direction, against the WM3.  I mean, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject and I am obviously of the mind to that the WM3 are innocent and that the real killer is still out there.  But I’d like to see if “Blood of Innocents” has evidence in it that makes my opinion waver.  If I’m wrong about the WM3, I don’t want to blindly support them.  But everything I have seen so far, every article, every website, every court document, all of the evidence, it all points away from these three guys.  So I’ll give it a read.  If it makes me waver, I’ll just have to do more research to find out the validity of those claims.  If it doesn’t make me waver, then I know that what I believe to be true, IS true.

I truly don’t believe that these guys did this.  I really truly believe that they are in prison because they were obvious suspects, poor and could not defend themselves against these allegations.  The public officials in Arkansas all say that if the public had the information laid out in front of them like they did and like the jurors involved did, they’d know that the right people were behind bars.  But that’s not true.  The information is available online and you can read it yourself on WM3.org.  The families of the victims no longer believe they have the right people in jail.

I just don’t think it’s right that people should be arrested, tried and end up in prison for life for a crime that cannot physically tie the ones sentenced to the crime.  I feel like, at the very least, give them a new trial.  Let the bite marks, alibis, and DNA come into evidence and try these guys with science.  Hold the evidence up to the meter we now use.  These guys were tried and convicted solely on hearsay (which has now been admitted to be lies by the people involved), on rumors (that the police themselves started), on fear and on a desperate need to calm the community who was growing steadily more and more panicked.

It just makes me feel terrible that the possibility of these people being innocent yet serving life sentences could end up robbing them of their lives.  And I just can’t understand why Arkansas won’t just re-try them.  Why not?  If they’re certain that the right people are in prison, they’ll be re-convicted and their decision will be upheld.  Damien Echols himself has said that he’d never want the ruling to be overturned.  He’d never want to be released without being re-tried because he would want his name to be free and clear before he went back into the world.  That, to me, doesn’t sound like a person who is hoping to commit a crime and get away with it.  It sounds to me like a person who didn’t do what he is accused of doing and is pissed off about being painted with that brush.  So I’m going to read these books with (somewhat) objective eye and then report my findings.

One final point I want to make in all of this is that someone I know and love ALSO did a substantial amount of time in prison for a crime they did not commit.  So I know it’s possible, I know it happens and I am part of a group of people who had to stand on the sidelines waiting for someone to come home who was robbed of many years of their life with their family and friends.  I know the toll it takes on the person and the people that love them.  Conviction doesn’t necessarily equal guilt.

So if there is a chance that someone else did this crime, I think that that should be examined.  That’s all.  And if we pay attention and put enough pressure on the right people, they can be re-tried by today’s standards and justice will be finally served.

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