Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is a 1996 documentary film directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the trials of three teenage boys who came to be known as the West Memphis Three in West Memphis, Arkansas. The teenagers—Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin—were accused of the May 1993 murder and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys.

The West Memphis 3

Three eight-year-old boys—Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers—were reported missing on May 5, 1993. The first report to the police was made by Byers' adoptive father, John Mark Byers, around 7:00 pm. The boys were allegedly last seen together by three neighbors, who in affidavits told of seeing them playing together around 6:30 pm the evening they disappeared, and seeing Terry Hobbs, Steve Branch's stepfather, calling them to come home. Initial police searches made that night were limited. Friends and neighbors also conducted a search that night, which included a cursory visit to the location where the bodies were later found.

The Victims

Police initially suspected the boys had been raped however, later expert testimony disputed this finding despite trace amounts of sperm DNA found on a pair of pants recovered from the scene. Prosecution experts claim Byers' wounds were the results of a knife attack and that he had been purposely castrated by the murderer; defense experts claim the injuries were more probably the result of post-mortem animal predation. Police believed the boys were assaulted and killed at the location where they were found; critics argued that the assault, at least, was unlikely to have occurred at the creek. Byers was the only victim with drugs in his system; he was prescribed Ritalin in January 1993, as part of an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder treatment.The initial autopsy report describes the drug as Carbamazepine, and that dosage was found to be at sub-therapeutic level. John Mark Byers said that Christopher Byers may not have taken his prescription on May 5, 1993.

The victims parents

Evidence

Police officers James Sudbury and Steve Jones felt that the crime had "cult" overtones, and that Damien Echols might be a suspect because he had an interest in occultism, and Jones felt Echols was capable of murdering children.The police interviewed Echols on May 7, two days after the bodies were discovered. During a polygraph examination, he denied any involvement. The polygraph examiner claimed that Echols' chart indicated deception. On May 9, during a formal interview by Detective Bryn Ridge, Echols mentioned that one of the victims had wounds to the genitals; law enforcement viewed this knowledge as incriminating.

Convictions

On February 5, 1994, Misskelley was convicted by a jury of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. The court sentenced him to life plus 40 years in prison. His conviction was appealed, but the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. On March 19, 1994 Echols and Baldwin were found guilty on three counts of murder. The court sentenced Echols to death and Baldwin to life in prison

FREE'D BUT FOREVER CONDEMNED…..

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