Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dixie Chicks join the chorus for the West Memphis Three

Thirteen long years, several benefit albums and concerts, and this case is now finally starting to gain steam. The article doesn't mention how the prosecution used the three then-teenage defendants' black clothes and interest in heavy metal as evidence against them. If people remember, this is right at the end of the PMRC/Satanic Panic years. If you haven't donated to their defense already, then do now! -AB

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by Roger Friedman, Fox News

The Dixie Chicks have a new controversy on their hands. Lead singer Natalie Maines is urging people to contribute money to a defense fund for three Arkansas men that she (and many others) believe were wrongly convicted of killing three children in 1993.

Maines writes her plea on the Dixie Chicks Web site, which has already been answered by several celebrities including, I am told, Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Eddie Vedder, Jack Black and Henry Rollins.

"I'm writing this letter today because I believe that three men have spent the past 13 years in prison for crimes they didn't commit," Maines' message begins.

"On May 5, 1993 in West Memphis, Ark., three 8-year-old boys, Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore were murdered.

"Three teenage boys, Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin were convicted of the murders in 1994. Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley received life sentences without parole, and Damien Echols sits on death row.
"I encourage everyone to see the HBO documentaries, 'Paradise Lost' and 'Paradise Lost 2' for the whole history of the case."

Right now, Maines’ main goal is to raise money for the West Memphis 3. To that end, she’s directing fans to the Web site www.wm3.org.

Overturning convictions is more common these days, thanks to more sophisticated forensics. There are obviously now dozens of stories about murder convictions that have been overturned thanks to DNA testing.

Plays and projects like "The Exonerated," for example, have shown mistakes made by juries and prosecutors.

On the above-mentioned Web site, the wife of one the convicted men wrote on Oct. 29: "DNA testing has been conducted on dozens of pieces of evidence. The DNA results show no link whatsoever to Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley or Jason Baldwin — and all of the experts agree that, under the prosecution theory of how the crime was committed, their DNA would be present at the crime scene if they were guilty.

"Instead, the DNA results match Terry Hobbs, the step-father of one of the victims. Our new filing also includes strong evidence from Pam Hobbs (the ex-wife of Terry Hobbs and the mother of one of the victims) implicating her former husband in the murders."

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