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The West Memphis Three — teenagers Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin — may be released from jail on Friday.
Here are few details about the case and their alleged crime:
1. Echols, Misskelley, Jr. and Baldwin were arrested as teens in West Memphis, Arkansas on May 5, 1993. They were later convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys as part of a Satanic ritual. Echols was sentenced to death, Misskelley, Jr to life imprisonment plus 40 years and Baldwin to life in prison.
2. In 2007, new forensic evidence was introduced in the case revealing that the DNA collected at the crime scene did not match the defendants — but did match the stepfather of one of the victims, Terry Hobbs, as well as one of his friends. The State and the Defense team filed a report that included, “Although most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offenses, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants.” The defense filed a new motion with the evidence.
3. In 2008, Judge David Burnett of the Circuit Court denied Echols’ application or a new hearing based on the new evidence.
4. In September 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments about Burnett’s decision, but in November of that year decided the statute was too narrow and reversed and remanded all cases to hearings to determine if new trials should be held.
5. New evidence presented in July 2011 showed that DNA found at the scene did not match any of the defendants. They were set free on Aug. 19.
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