via press release:
Some 17 years after they were wrongfully convicted of murder, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, best known as the West Memphis 3, walked out of jail free men after agreeing to a rarely used plea deal. They did so after correspondent Erin Moriarty told their story on 48 HOURS MYSTERY and with the support of entertainment heavyweights, Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks.
In this updated edition of 48 HOURS MYSTERY, the second of back-to-back episodes on the night, Erin Moriarty talks with Echols and Baldwin about their experience, as well as Depp, who said, “it’s mind-blowing how it actually happened.”
As teenagers, the three were convicted of the brutal murder of three young boys from West Memphis, Ark. At the time, there was speculation the murders were part of a satanic ritual, and Echols, with a penchant for long hair and black clothes, became prime suspect for police.
But there was no evidence linking Echols to the crime. That is, until Misskelley spoke to police. He barely knew Echols, and his own attorney said he had the mental capabilities of a 5-year-old. Still, after hours of interrogation, he confessed to helping Echols and Baldwin kill the boys. The confession sent Echols to death row, while Baldwin and Misskelley were handed life sentences.
It was attention from 48 HOURS MYSTERY over the years and another documentary that helped draw attention to the case of the three men. Depp and others felt what occurred was a grave injustice. “There was no evidence… they were easy targets,” Depp tells Moriarty.
This updated report features the first TV interviews with Echols and Baldwin following their release.
“West Memphis 3: Free” is the second part of a double feature. The first, “Dark Side of Paradise” (9:00 PM, ET/PT) features Peter Van Sant’s updated report on the search for Don North, who vanished in January 2011 in the Caribbean paradise of the San Blas Islands. Van Sant talks to North’s nephew, Ezra North, and former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer Don Winner, who teamed up to scour the Panamanian coast for clues to what happened to the world traveler. Did something horrible happen to the man who told friends he found his own personal Eden?
(Programming note: “West Memphis 3: Free” was pre-empted on 7/21/2012 due to breaking news coverage.)