"48 HOURS MYSTERY" TO BROADCAST FIRST TELEVISION INTERVIEWS WITH MEMBERS OF THE WEST MEMPHIS 3 SINCE THEY WERE FREED
17 YEARS AFTER BEING CONVICTED AS TEENAGERS, THREE MEN RELEASED FROM PRISON LAST MONTH
Seventeen years ago, three teenagers were convicted of the brutal murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Damien Echols, known as the "ringleader," was on death row, while Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were serving life sentences for the crime. Then in a stunning turn, the three young men - known as the West Memphis 3 - were all released from prison last month, agreeing to a rarely-used plea deal. Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin talk to 48 HOURS MYSTERY in their first television interview since their release. Correspondent Erin Moriarty reports the final chapter to this dramatic story in 48 HOURS MYSTERY, "The West Memphis 3 - Free" on Saturday, Sept. 17 (10:00 PM, ET/PT). Click here for a preview of this broadcast. Plus, debate the case on Facebook with Erin Moriarty and on Twitter with the producers of 48 HOURS MYSTERY, from 10:00-11:00 PM, ET.
Over the years, high-profile supporters of the West Memphis 3 were determined to prove Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were innocent. Working for their release included artists like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, and actor Johnny Depp, who in describing Damien Echols' conviction told Moriarty, "it's mind-blowing how it actually happened." After studying the case Depp said, "There was no evidence... they were easy targets."
In addition to Echols and Baldwin, Saturday's broadcast of 48 HOURS MYSTERY will include interviews with Lorri Echols, a landscape architect from New York who married Damien Echols while he was in prison, leading the charge to prove his innocence; defense attorney Stephen Braga; and actor Johnny Depp. Following are excerpts from 48 HOURS MYSTERY'S interviews with Echols and Baldwin.
MANDATORY CREDIT 48 HOURS MYSTERY.
DAMIEN ECHOLS SOUNDBITES:
On his feelings after being freed from prison:
Erin Moriarty: "Is there a way to describe what you're feeling right now?"
Damien Echols: "Too many things. You know, it... just about any emotion, any thought, anything else that you could put a name to, I'm probably having it or probably have had it in sometime over the past week. You know, there's excitement. There's... maybe a little bit of anxiety. Curiosity.
You know, this is a whole new world. This is not the world that I knew when I went into prison. So I'm having to learn to cope with things. Use things. You know, computers. Cell phones. Just... it... it's a whole new world and I'm trying to learn how to deal with that."
On justice being served:
Echols: "I wouldn't describe this as justice by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think it's perfect, but I think it was the best thing we could do for now."
On whether or not he is angry:
Moriarty: "Are you angry?"
Echols: "In some ways, yes. But I'm also just ready to leave it behind. I'm ready to move - you know, these people have eaten up eighteen and a half years of my life. I spent the entire decade of my 20s and most of my 30s - you know, I'm almost 40 years old. They took all that time from me already and I don't want to give them any more.
I'm not going to sit around thinking about it or - dwelling on it. Being angry about it. I don't want to waste my time. I don't want to waste my life."
JASON BALDWIN SOUNDBITES:
On the innocence of the West Memphis 3:
Jason Baldwin: "I did not have anything to do with murdering Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, or Steve Branch. And that's... that's just the simple truth."
"[I] figured, you know, that I am innocent, that Damien's innocent, that Jessie is innocent. And ultimately... we'd be released. Did I think it would take this long? No, I didn't. Did I think it would come about in this fashion? Certainly not."
"I always had that hope that somewhere, somebody would figure out that they had the wrong people. That, you know, they'd pull up a piece of evidence that pointed who really done the crime."
On being released:
Baldwin: "The first thing I did? Oh, I just smiled and got... like a thousand hugs from everybody, you know? I smiled so much that my face actually hurt from it. It just felt like everything was all right. Like, here's the time to begin, you know?"
This broadcast is produced by Gail Abbott Zimmerman. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer and Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.
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