On Monday, March 26, Belmont University will host both a film presentation and a convocation lecture with Jason Baldwin, one of the three men now known as the West Memphis 3. In 1994, a teenage Baldwin and acquaintances Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley were tried and convicted in the murders of three 8-year-old boys the year before in West Memphis, Arkansas.
According to the New York Times, “The convictions were largely based on the testimony of witnesses who said they heard the teenagers talk of the murders, and on the prosecution’s argument that the defendants had been motivated as members of a satanic cult.”
Believing the three were wrongfully convicted, a number of supporters worked on documentaries, books and benefit concerts to garner attention to the case. In 2007, new forensic evidence was presented, and last fall the three men were released from prison after entering Alford pleas, which allow them to assert their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them.
At 7 p.m. the public is invited to join Baldwin along with Belmont students, faculty and staff in the Bunch Library Multimedia Room for a viewing of the 2012 Academy Award-nominated HBO documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. The film, along with its predecessors Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000), detail the story of the West Memphis 3 and the trio’s ultimate release from prison. Together the films played a significant role in garnering publicity, awareness and support for the men.