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Friday, October 28, 2011

'Hobbit' director talks of pardon quest for Damien Echols

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 8:31 AM

DAMIEN ECHOLS
Movie director Peter Jackson, in New Zealand to film "The Hobbit," brought Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three with him and that occasioned some questioning at a news conference there. He particularly was pressed on whether he'd gone through normal channels to get a waiver of a rule that would normally prevent a convicted murderer from entering the country.

Jackson told reporters he was working on a full pardon for Echols, released after a negotiated guilty plea. He also "clarified" that Echols would not have a role in "The Hobbit," news that had caused some unhappiness among those who believe Echols is guilty of the murder of three West Memphis children. Though he pleaded guilty, he did so under an unusual procedure that allowed him to assert his innocence in return for release for time served in the 1993 deaths. He had been condemned to die. His co-defendants Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were serving life sentences when released.

Pardon for Damien Echols? It's unwise to ever say never in the WM3 case. But if Jackson thinks a pardon could be forthcoming from Gov. Mike Beebe or any likely Arkansas successor, I don't think much of his odds.

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