a timeline of injustice 1993-2011
PREMIERES THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 9PM
A TIMELINE OF INJUSTICE 1993-2011
May 6 THE CRIME
June 3 THE ARRESTS
The bound and mutilated
After hours of police questioning,
bodies of three missing
Jessie Misskelley, 17, gives a
8-year-old boys—Stevie Branch,
statement implicating himself,
Christopher Byers, and Michael
Damien Echols, 18, and Jason
Moore—are discovered in the
CHRISTOPHER BYERS, MICHAEL MOORE, STEVIE BRANCH
Baldwin, 16, in the children's murder.
DAMIEN ECHOLS, JASON BALDWIN, JESSIE MISSKELLEY
woods of Robin Hood Hills in
West Memphis, Arkansas.
The three young men are placed
Portions of Misskelley's leaked confession are
June 7 Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce
reported on the front page of the Memphis
Sinofsky make their first trip to West Memphis.
guilty to capital murder charges. Circuit
Commercial Appeal. The confession will later be
Over the course of the next year and a half, they
Judge David Burnett severs Misskelley's trial
ruled inadmissible in the cases of Echols and
shoot material – including many hours of
from that of Echols and Baldwin.
interviews, scenes with participants on all sides
The three men plead not
February 4, 1994
Misskelley is convicted of first degree murder
and sentenced to life in prison, as well two
counts of second-degree murder and two
and footage of the court cases – which will be
featured in the ‘Paradise Lost’ documentary films.
Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
March 18 A DEATH SENTENCE
A Jonesboro jury finds Echols and Baldwin guilty of three counts of capital
February 19, 1996
The Arkansas Times writes of the case
murder. The next day, Echols is sentenced to death by lethal injection and
"[The] vague proposition of the murders as
Baldwin to life without parole.
an expression of an ignorant boy's
In a unanimous decision, the Arkansas Supreme
Court upholds Misskelley's conviction.
conception of the demands of demonology
was the state's entire case.” The Times’
sympathetic assessment of the case was
at odds with the tenor of much of the local
press coverage at the time.
America Online debuts the AOL homepage and surpasses 3 million members.
THE FIRST FILM
'Paradise Lost: The Child Murders
at Robin Hood Hills' airs on HBO,
casting doubt on the men's guilt
Burk Sauls, Kathy Bakken and Grove
The Arkansas Supreme Court rejects
New York architect Lorri Davis
Pashley visit Arkansas for the first time.
all points of appeal brought by Echols
sees the film and begins a
Along with Lisa Fancher, they run the
and Baldwin, upholding the conviction.
correspondence with Echols.
WM3.org website and effectively coin the
and sparking international
term "West Memphis Three."
interest in the case.
AND JOE BERLINGER
WITH DAMIEN ECHOLS
Bill Clinton is innaugurated for a 2nd term
May 27, 1997
The U.S. Supreme Court rejects Echols' petition
Lorri Davis quits her job and moves closer
for writ of certiorari, which would have ordered
Two students go on a shooting rampage in Columbine High School.
a review of the case.
June 7, 1999
Judge Burnett issues
Varner Supermax security facility.
Echols and Davis are married in a
ceremony in the visitor's center at the
an order denying
Echols' "Rule 37"
petition, which claimed
JUDGE DAVID BURNETT
that he received
inadequate defense in
the original trial.
Google's search index grows to include 3 billion items.
THE SECOND FILM
April 19, 2002
A NEW LAW
Accepting an MTV Movie award, South Park
co-creator Trey Parker shouts, "Free the West
'Paradise Lost 2: Revelations' airs on HBO,
Arkansas Legislature passes a statute allowing
forensic DNA testing.
examining the "Free the WM3" movement and
convicted criminal defendants to challenge
focusing on new evidence.
their convictions with new DNA evidence.
June 9, 2000
Leveritt explores the crime and subsequent
legal wrangling in her book Devil's Knot: The
True Story of the West Memphis Three.
President George W. Bush announces the launch of the invasion of Iraq.
June 3, 2003
THE MOVEMENT GROWS
Singer Henry Rollins organizes the
benefit album, "Rise Above: 24 Black
Actress Winona Ryder, lawyer Dan Stidham
Judge Burnett's denial of Echols' 1999 Rule
Flag Songs to Benefit the West
and author Mara Leveritt organize the West
Memphis Three-themed "Cruel and
October 8, 2002
Arkansas Times investigative reporter Mara
Attorneys for Echols file a motion for
Unusual" art exhibit at Sixspace in Los
Angeles, raising nearly $25,000 for DNA
testing and legal fees.
The Arkansas Supreme Court affirms
PREMIERES THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 9PM
A TIMELINE OF INJUSTICE 1993-2011
Mark Zuckerberg launches the social networking website Facebook at Harvard.
June 23, 2005
Twelve years after his arrest, Damien Echols'
publishes his book, Almost Home: My Life Story
Eddie Vedder, a long-time supporter of the
November 1, 2007
cause, donates signed items to be auctioned
Lawyers for the defense hold a press conference featuring expert witnesses
off for "West Memphis 3 World Awareness
to review new evidence. They claim that DNA evidence recovered at the
crime scene does not match any of the defendants, though it is consistent
with 1.5% of the population which includes Terry Hobbs, victim Stevie
Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States.
September 10, 2008
Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and other
Judge Burnett, who has refused to recuse
Terry Hobbs sues Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks for defamation after she
supporters of Arkansas Take Action—a group
himself from the case, denies Echols' motion
made statements that linked Hobbs to the murders. In doing so, he opens
formed earlier in the year by local Little Rock
for a new trial, without holding an evidentiary
himself up to answering questions about the case under oath.
business people Capi Peck and Brent Peterson
hearing to consider new DNA evidence.
along with Lorri Davis—present Governor Mike
Beebe with a slew of postcards from around the
world asking for a pardon.
January 13, 2010
Actress Demi Lovato urges her Twitter
Judge Burnett wins election to serve in
Lorri Davis and Arkansas Take Action
AN ORDER REVERSED
followers to support the West Memphis
the Arkansas State Senate; State
organize "Voices for Justice: A Rally in
The Arkansas Supreme Court reverses
3 cause. She was less than a year old
Senators cannot be involved in
Support of the West Memphis 3" in
Judge Burnett's September 10, 2008
when they were arrested.
pending legal cases.
Little Rock featuring Eddie Vedder,
orders and remands the defendants'
Natalie Maines, Patti Smith, Ben Harper
cases back to the circuit court for
and Johnny Depp to raise awareness.
evidentiary hearings to consider new
DNA evidence and a charge of juror
Judge Burnett denies Baldwin and
Misskelley's Rule 37 petitions.
October 11, 2011
THE NEXT CHAPTER
ing and directing additional DNA and
other scientific testing as requested by
As the result of negotiations between the
premieres at the New York Film Festival with an
prosecutors and defense counsel, the convictions
epilogue that includes the release of the men
they will address in evidentiary
are vacated on the condition that the defendants
from prison. Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley are
hearings. He also decides that a single
enter "Alford pleas," in which they plead guilty
all in attendance, joined by many of the people
hearing will be held for all three
while maintaining their innocence, yet acknowl-
who have supported and worked on their case
edge that prosecutors might have had enough
over the course of the previous 18 years. The film
evidence to convict them. After the pleas are
debuts on HBO on January 12, 2012.
January 4, 2011
Judge David Laser, who has replaced
Judge Laser issues an order authoriz-
Judge Burnett on the circuit court,
orders attorneys for the three
defendants to file briefs on what issues
The third film, ‘Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,’
entered, Judge Laser sentences all three men to
time served and a ten year suspended sentence.
Their convictions vacated, Echols, now 36,
Baldwin, 34, and Misskelley, 36, are released from
prison after 18 years and 78 days.
SOURCE: THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE CASE – DOCUMENT ARCHIVE, HTTP://CALLAHAN.8K.COM/CUSTOM3.HTML