Some promising news coming from Arkansas as the controversial West Memphis Three were granted a new hearing by the state Supreme Court. The case, which dates back to 1993, involves Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley who are all serving life sentences. The three men, known as the West Memphis Three, were convicted of murdering three eight year old boys in West Memphis in the early 90s. The ruling allows the defence to provide significant evidence not presented at trail including DNA evidence which could exonerate the three. Even the parents of the victims have questioned the verdict.
Much of the anger against the conviction comes from the lack of forensic evidence and even lack of motive, with all the murders ascribed to a "satanic ritual." The prosecution used the three's predilection towards black clothing and heavy metal as justification for the entire case. At the time of the case, there was a "moral panic" about the threat of satanic child abuse, even though it was later found that there was little or no cause for it.
The three have had a number of high profile supporters including Henry Rollins who released 2002's Rise Above - 24 Black Flag Songs in support, Joe Strummer, Supersuckers, Tom Waits and others contributed to another benefit compilation, Free the West Memphis 3 . Jello Biafra has spoken at length about the issue, as have South Park's Trey Parker, actress Winona Ryder, actor Johnny Depp and many others.