Judge In West Memphis 3 States That If Retried Defendants Would Have Been Acquitted

The Judge in the West Memphis 3 hearing in Jonesboro today stated that the agreement reached today removes the burden of a retrial for the State of Arkansas.

Family members waited outside for Jessie Misskelley, stating they were happy for the release but not happy that the defendants had to plead guilty to be released. The judge issued a short probation and discussed how the defendants must adhere to the conditions of their release or face more prison time.

During the hearing, witnesses stated that a person stood and yelled his disapproval in the judges decission. Each defendant began speaking with the statement of serving 18 years for a crime they claimed they did not commit. The convicted three held a news conference in the Craighead County Courthouse before exiting as free men.

More than 30 news crews were present and many had live feeds via the internet of the entire proceeding. Crowds began to form outside the courthouse before dawn, Damien Echols stated he had not slept in four days knowing this day was coming.

Along with the plea, the judge stated this guilty plea excuses the State of Arkansas from future lawsuits.