Gov. Mike Beebe, citing procedural reasons, said he couldn't grant executive clemency to the West Memphis Three before he left office even if he was inclined to do so. What's more, none has sought a pardon.
Mara Leveritt passes along information about a new change.org petition drive asking Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to pardon Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin before his term as governor comes to an end.
We're kicking off a new series today called Answers, where we ask interesting folks a series of questions and post their answers in short videos. On a busy week, Mara Leveritt was gracious enough to be our first interview subject. She's, of course, the author of "Devil's Knot" and the forthcoming "Dark Spell." She's also likely had her byline in the pages of the Times longer than anyone else. Tonight, she'll celebrate the premiere of the film adaption of "Devil's Knot" at the Ron Robinson Theater.
The Ron Robinson Theater will host the U.S. premiere of the film adaptation of Times contributing editor Mara Leveritt's book, "Devil's Knot." The screening, co-sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System, the Little Rock Film Festival and the Arkansas Times, is scheduled for Saturday, May 3.
Damien Echols writes in an article published in Salon today that his meditation practice kept him sane in prison and was, though he didn't know it, preparing him for his life after Death Row ("sometimes I thought I was just getting ready to die," he writes).
Mara Leveritt reports from West Memphis and a hearing on a suit seeking access to police material in the West Memphis Three murder case:
Circuit Judge Victor Hill said this morning that he will take under advisement two important issues concerning freedom of information in Arkansas and issue a ruling early next week.
Mara Leveritt reports on a legal development in the ongoing West Memphis Three case. Two parents of children murdered in West Memphis in 1993 still have not been granted access to evidence relating to those murders, despite a lawsuit against local officials and state claims that the case is closed.
Blake Hendrix, attorney for Jason Baldwin, has forwarded a copy of a letter he and co-counsel John T. Philipsborn sent to Second Judicial District Prosecutor Scott Ellington two days ago outlining the results of some of the most extensive fiber-analysis ever conducted on materials collected during the investigation of the murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis in May 1993.
On Tuesday, The Arkansas Blog reported on passages from "Life After Death," the new memoir by Damien Echols, that look very much like Echols throwing Baldwin under the bus over Baldwin's brief stand against accepting the Alford Plea that freed the three men because it would require them to plead guilty.
The anniversary of the release of the West Memphis Three is just about upon us, and their supporters have sent out a reminder that that a $200,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction remains on the table, and West Memphis Three supporters continue to maintain a tip-line
Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.
Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.