NEWS

West Memphis Three member places hope in Toronto director's film

11/21/2013 06:14 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
Three men who served nearly two decades in prison for a triple homicide they say they didn't commit are hoping a Hollywood film by a Toronto director will help in the effort to clear their names.

Known as the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin, were teenagers in Arkansas when they were locked up for the killing of three young boys.

Directed by Atom Egoyan, Devil's Knot premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year and tells the story of those killings and the trial of the three labelled misfits.  The film stars Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon.

"Did I deserve to be in prison? No. Did I want to be in prison? No. But the reality was I was there and I was there for a greater portion of my life," said Baldwin, who is Toronto for a conference put on by the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.

Baldwin is now pursuing an undergraduate degree with plans of one day studying law. The date of his release etched into his arm is a constant reminder of the 18 years he spent locked up in an Arkansas prison.

"I remember the night I was arrested, trying to reason with the officers, but they were beyond reason. They refused the truth, it was very maddening and infuriating, but I held on to hope," Baldwin said. "We're poor, we come from the trailer park, we can't defend ourselves, young and uneducated."

The Memphis Three entered so-called Alford pleas in 2011, which allowed them to maintain their innocence and also ensure an eventual release.

The families of Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers still do not know who killed their sons.

Baldwin continues to urge Arkansas to clear his name and reopen the investigation.

"We're not giving up. They may have given up bu we're not," Baldwin said. "So they might as well do their job and do what's right."