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Friday, August 19, 2011

The West Memphis Three

I'm sure that most of you have heard of the case, which was featured in two documentaries titled "Paradise Lost." The three accused killers are to be freed -- but in exchange, they must plead guilty. Pretty much everyone with any sense (including the father of one of the victims) agrees that they were innocent all along.

As I recall, Dreyfuss got got out of Devil's Island under a similar arrangement. The state's need to save face is a powerful thing. Powerful and stupid.

The three were innocent all along. The only reason they were convicted -- and juror comments at the time make this clear -- was because the most erudite of the three, Damien Echols, had expressed a youthful interest in Aleister Crowley.

This case damns the south. This case damns the paranoia of the fundamentalist mindset.
Actually, two of the three fathers proclaim their innocence.
Compassion is a virtue. Ignorance and bias against groups of people lumped together is not. Being a Southerner, I resent it when events occur in the South whose outcome is less than admirable and Yankees mouth off about how bad we all are, and go on about our culture as if all Southerners shared the same values. I could make up a laundry list of events of a despicable nature that have occurred in the East and West no end. And, as far as the Dreyfus affair is concerned, the way I heard it told, there was a bit of anti-Semitism involved in that one that skewed things terribly. Nonetheless, the Criminal Justice System in this country as a whole is a monster, no doubt about it. And in this case Arkansas has eaten its young. And the irony, that should not be lost, on those who are discussing this case, is that if these three are not guilty, then the real murderer is still at large. And in their ineptness, not only have the authorities punished innocents, they have also allowed the guilty to remain free.
So I am with you. They didnt do it.

So who did? And why did no one care about finding the real deal?

This isn't about the need for law enforcement to save face. It is about avoiding future law suits. If they are let go without pleading guilty, they can turn around and sue with the state's action letting them out as support for their suit. This way, their own plea compromises any future case they might have. It is all about money.
Prosecutorial misconduct shielded by law; judicial arrogance, gross incompetence, criminal stupidity-- all played a role. None of these flaws is unique to the South.
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