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JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Three men convicted of killing three 8-year-old Cub Scouts and dumping their bodies in an Arkansas ditch changed their pleas Friday, resolving a yearslong effort to win their freedom.
Under a plea bargain, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were being freed immediately. The boys' families were notified about the pact ahead of time but were not asked to approve it.
The defendants, known by their supporters as the West Memphis 3, agreed to a legal maneuver that lets them maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors have enough evidence against them. They were credited with time served, and Echols is being freed from Arkansas' death row. They were placed on 10 years' probation and if they re-offend they could be sent back to prison for 21 years, Prosecutor Scott Ellington said.
"I believe that it would be practically impossible after 18 years to put on a proper trial in this case," Ellington said.
"I believe this case is closed and there are no other individuals involved," he said.
Baldwin and Echols each pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. Misskelley pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. Through a legal maneuver known as an Alford plea, the three men were allowed to maintain their claims of innocence
Originally posted by binkbonk
reply to post by aching_knuckles
They're guilty. They plead guilty.
edit on 19-8-2011 by binkbonk because: (no reason given)