The trio of teenage friends were accused and convicted of several child murders in Arkansas in 1993, with the evidence more or less amounting to their interest in heavy metal music and dark-colored clothing. DNA evidence since confirmed their innocence, turning them into a cause célèbre as symbols of legal injustice, ’90s-era hysteria over provocative music, and, more broadly, the human tendency to scapegoat outsiders. The Los Angeles Times writes:
The three men known as the “West Memphis 3,” who have been imprisoned for 18 years for a notorious 1993 child-murder case, have won their freedom in an Arkansas courtroom.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin pleaded guilty to the murders of three 8-year-old boys in May 1993, but are able to claim they are innocent, an arrangement known as an “Alford plea.” The three men were released Friday after serving sentences of 18 years plus credit for time served.