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Hearing may set West Memphis Three free

by Jorge Hernandez on August 19, 2011

One of the most captivating murder trials of the last 20 years may get a new twist today, as experts believe that the so-called West Memphis Three are expected to be freed from prison. The three men, convicted of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, have reportedly struck a deal that may release them from custody as early as today, the Associated Press reports.

The trio, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, were convicted in 1994 and Echols was sentenced to death. The other two recieved life sentences. The case garnered a lot of attention in the years that followed as there were many questions as to whether or not they were responsible for the murders.

Specifically, investigators found in 2007 that DNA evidence recovered from the scene did not match any of the defendants, and instead matched a victim's stepfather. A hearing was set for November to determine whether or not the three would get a new trial, but the agreement will likely avoid the need. The deal will allow the defendants to not admit guilt while still recognizing that the state could have enough evidence to convict them.

Although being freed from prison may vindicate many people who have fought for so long to free the West Memphis Three, others are still angry that they have had to spend the better part of their lives behind bars for a crime they may not have committed.

"There's certainly no justice for the three men that's been in prison or my son and his two friends," John Mark Byers, the adoptive father of one of the victims, told the AP. "To me, this is just a cop-out from the state for not wanting to admit that they made a mistake."

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