As a teenager, Damien Echols along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley—known as the West Memphis Three—was convicted in 1994 of killing three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, AK. There was no DNA linking the WM3 to the crime, and some of the DNA found at the crime scene even seemed to implicate the stepfather of one of the victims. The case gained national attention soon after the teenagers’ arrests when word was leaked that the murders were committed as part of a satanic ritual. A key prosecution witness in the second trial was a self-proclaimed cult expert who stated that the murders bore “trappings” of the occult. This testimony, combined with testimony about books Damien Echols read and some of his writings, plus evidence that he and Jason Baldwin liked heavy-metal music and several black t-shirts were found in Jason Baldwin’s closet, helped to convict the two teenagers. Damien Echols was sentenced to death; Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life without parole, and Misskelley was sentenced to 40 years. Following a 2010 decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court regarding newly produced DNA evidence and potential juror misconduct, the West Memphis Three negotiated a plea bargain with prosecutors. After serving more than 18 years in prison, all three of the WM3 took the Alford Plea, which meant that the state of Arkansas admitted no wrongdoing. While in prison, Damien was ordained into the Rinzai Zen Buddhist tradition. Today he teaches classes on Magick around the country and works as a visual artist. He and wife Lorri live in New York City with their three cats. He is the author of High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Saved My Life on Death Rowand the *New York Times *bestseller Life After Death and Yours For Eternity(with his wife Lorri Davis). This episode was recorded live in front of a studio audience at the opening of The Church of Rock & Roll.
Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1.
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.
Stuff You Should Know
If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.
The Piketon Massacre
The most notorious mass murder in Ohio’s history happened on the night of April 21, 2016 in rural Pike County. Four crime scenes, thirty-two gunshot wounds, eight members of the Rhoden family left dead in their homes. Two years later a local family of four, the Wagners, are arrested and charged with the crimes. As the Wagners await four back-to-back capital murder trials, the KT Studios team revisits Pike County to examine: crime-scene forensics, upcoming legal proceedings, and the ties that bind the victims and the accused. As events unfold and new crimes are uncovered, what will it mean for all involved? What will it mean for Pike County?