Fifteen years ago, the “West Memphis Three” were convicted of the torture and murder of three Cub Scouts in Arkansas. New DNA evidence has bolstered the argument, laid out in two HBO documentaries and an upcoming movie, that the three teenagers convicted — one of whom was sentenced to death — were victims themselves of a community more concerned with their taste in music than evidence.

Observer via the Guardian:

Now lawyers for Echols have lodged new evidence seeking to prove his innocence. The case against the West Memphis Three appears to have been more about rushed police work and hyped-up paranoia over non-existent Satanism than evidence. The suspects were just unfortunate to be social outcasts and to like rock music.

First there was Misskelley’s confession. Despite coaching by investigators, Misskelley – who was mentally retarded and had a drug problem – described the murders incorrectly. He described sexual abuse that forensics proved had not happened. He said the murders were in the morning, when the victims were in school, and that they were tied with ropes, not shoelaces. Much of his confession seemed to be suggested by police interrogators.

The prosecution’s assertion that a Satanic ritual had taken place has also now been discredited. The key expert witness on cults, Dale Griffis, had claimed in court that the marks on the bodies were clearly Satanic. However, it was later proved that Griffis had got his ‘PhD in cult studies’ from a fake Californian university that was later closed for being a ‘diploma mill’. ‘Apart from being a travesty of justice, this is not a Satanic murder. There is no ritual,’ said John Douglas, a veteran of the FBI who is working with the defence team.

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