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A ghoulish staple of Death Row coverage is last-meal requests of condemned prisoners. We had something of a reverse image of that cliche last week with the surprise release of the West Memphis Three, including Death Row inmate Damien Echols. He had faced execution for the 1993 slaying of three West Memphis children.

On Death Row Thursday morning, he was at a party on the rooftop of the Madison Hotel in Memphis less than 36 hours later, following the surprise plea bargain that released him. By then, he'd had his first free world meal — a Kobe beef burger with red onion marmalade, shoestring potatoes and lots of ketchup. He told Capi Peck, a Little Rock restaurateur and leader of the Arkansas Take Action group that worked to free the three, that it was the best meal he'd ever eaten. Peck also reported that breakfast Saturday morning in Memphis included two items Echols had never eaten before — a bagel and fresh pineapple.

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