Devil’s Knot [movies]
The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a satanic ritual.
Devil’s Knot is an upcoming 2013 biographical crime-drama thriller film directed by Atom Egoyan. The film is based on a true story as told in Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book of the same name, concerning three teenagers known as the West Memphis Three, who were falsely accused of killing three young boys and subsequently sentenced to life in prison. The movie was produced by Paul Harris Boardman, Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson, Richard Saperstein and Christopher Woodrow, and stars Reese Witherspoon, Kevin Durand, Stephen Moyer, Colin Firth, Elias Koteas and Bruce Greenwood. It will have its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013, followed by a wider release.
On May 5, 1993, three eight-year-olds (Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore) went missing from their neighborhood in West Memphis, Arkansas. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies were found the next day. The religious community and small police department were convinced that the murders were the work of a satanic cult due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime. A month later, three teenagers (eighteen-year-old Damien Echols, sixteen-year-old Jason Baldwin, and seventeen-year-old Jessie Misskelley Jr.) were arrested after Misskelley, who was mentally handicapped, confessed after twelve hours of interrogation. Despite the lack of evidence connecting them to the crimes, they were convicted; Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life and Echols to death. All three maintained their innocence and hired forensic experts and investigators to reexamine the evidence, which eventually lent credibility to their innocence. The new evidence uncovered new unidentified DNA and several hairs, one of which tied Branch’s stepfather to the murders. This earned them powerful support, including celebrities and even the parents of two of the murdered children. Despite this, their appeals were rejected by a biased judge and state prosecutors who refused to acknowledge that they had sent three innocent men to prison.
In December, 2010, after eighteen years of incarceration, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted an evidential hearing and had a new judge determine if the new evidence entitled the three men to a new trial. On August 19, 2011, after serving 18 years in prison, they were allowed to walk free from prison after they reached an agreement with prosecutors. They gave “Alford pleas” in exchange for time served and were allowed to walk free. To date, they are working towards a full exoneration and have vowed to find the real murderer of Stevie, Christopher, and Michael.