Arkansas: No Pardons in ‘West Memphis Three’ Case
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS August 23, 2011
Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday that he did not plan to grant pardons in the “West Memphis Three” case unless evidence showed that someone else was to blame for the murders of three young boys in 1993.
The three men who were convicted, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., now have 10 years of what amounts to unsupervised probation after being released from custody on Friday in a swiftly arranged plea deal. Mr. Beebe said he did not consider pardons until all sentences were completed, and his term will have expired long before the probation ends. After an HBO documentary detailed their case in 1996, the men garnered celebrity support and hefty donations.
The original murder convictions were set aside amid doubts about the evidence. The three pleaded guilty to lesser charges on Friday in exchange for sentences of the 18 years that they had already served. As part of an Alford plea, the men were allowed to maintain their claims of innocence. Scott Ellington, a prosecutor, said he did not expect that proof would be found of anyone else’s involvement.
“The state believes that this case is concluded by the convictions of the three individuals who committed these heinous murders,” he said.