48 HOURS MYSTERY: WM3
9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27
Other than the Central High Crisis of 1957, it's hard to think of a historical event that has given Arkansas a bigger black eye over the years than the arrest, conviction and ongoing incarceration of Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, who have come to be known as The West Memphis Three. On May 5, 1993, three eight-year-old boys – Stevie Branch, Christo-pher Byers, and Michael Moore – went missing in West Memphis. The next day, their bodies were found trussed up with shoe-laces and secreted in the bottom of a muddy creek. Misskelley, Echols and Baldwin were soon arrested for their murders, and following kangaroo court trials in which whispers of Satanism and witchcraft but little in the way of hard evidence was brought to bear, they were convicted. Misskelley and Baldwin received life in prison, while Echols – who has since become the poster boy of the WM3 movement – was sentenced to death. Though many famous and not-so-famous supporters have rallied to their cause via the official website WM3.org and two award-winning documentaries about the case, Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley have been rotting in prison for 16 years, flinging themselves repeatedly against the brick wall of the Arkansas judicial system. Here, the CBS news magazine “48 Hours” takes a look at the case. If you're a supporter of the WM3, chances are it won't be anything you haven't heard before – outrage after outrage, followed by a lot of head shaking over why the three were arrested in the first place, much less why they're still in jail after all these years. Featured is an appearance by the reclusive actor Johnny Depp, who in-tones in the preview posted on the CBS website: “I firmly believe Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are totally innocent. It was a need for swift justice to placate the frightened community.”
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— David Koon