About 30 years ago, around 30 years ago, in West Memphis, Arkansas, three teenagers were found guilty of killing three boys aged 8 as part of a satanic ritual. The teens pleaded guilty but not guilty, however evidence was presented against the trio. Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin received sentences of life and 40 years in prison without parole. Damien Echols, the eldest of the three, was executed through lethal injection.
The three of them were free for 10 years under an “Alford plea,”” Echols has recently appealed to bring DNA evidence before the court with the hope of being able to acquit him of the sentence.
What is the reason why this case has gone for So Long?
Many changes in the criminal procedure helped in bringing about the infamous trial. At first, the teen defense attorneys for the defendants filed numerous appeals. Each brought back the sentence that was ultimately imposed and put the convicts into jail for more than 18 years in the event of a decision.
In 2007, fresh DNA evidence was identified that wasn’t linked with any defendant and could be used to clear the defendants. It was not until 2010 that the judge to consider whether DNA evidence might be used to discredit teens.
The Alford Plea
The three had been released from prison under the basis of a plea bargain and made the court trials for DNA tests not necessary. The Alford plea bargain is a way to keep your innocence intact even when the evidence stacks against your. The defendants who make use of Alford pleas are in essence accepting that there is sufficient evidence to establish that they’re guilty beyond reasonable doubt, while denying that they’re guilty. This is a very rare practice and is only accepted by the judge accompanied by proof of a lawyer’s competence.
By utilizing using the Alford plea, attorneys of West Memphis 3 West Memphis 3 were able to obtain release for their clients back in 2011. But, since it is true that an Alford plea has the consequence as a guilty plea the defendants weren’t released, so the conviction will remain on their record.
The Latest Issue
In 2021, Echols lawyer was granted permission to look into the DNA that was in perfect condition and was ready to process. The issue is that Echols appealed to an appeals court judge and was denied the right to process the DNA. This means that for the time being the DNA cannot be processed.
The issue currently affecting the DNA testing has to do with the habeas law. In Arkansas the habeas petition can only be granted to persons detained. In this case, the West Memphis 3 have been removed from custody which means they are not able to apply for the petition. Echols declares that he’ll continue trying to prove his innocence, and in turn, could be able assist in releasing Misskelley as well as Baldwin.
The New Research Cites The Reasons for Wrongful Conviction (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
Are You Keeping Your DNA Profil Private? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
Locate a Criminal Defense Lawyer near you (FindLaw’s Lawyer Directory)