West Memphis Three Film Prompts New Investigation

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October 25, 2012 | 6:11pm EST

Filmmaker Amy Berg’s riveting new documentary about the trial, conviction and 2011 release of the West Memphis Three has prompted police in Arkansas to reopen their investigations into the 1993 murders of three boy scouts.
Teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. were foundguilty of the crime and convicted, but a star-studded campaign and an investigation funded by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh led to the trio’s release.
Now, Berg’s new film West of Memphis, covering the fight to overturn the three friends’ convictions, has sparked a new investigation into the murders.
At a hearing on Wednesday into the findings of the film and testimony obtained by Berg, state of Arkansas officials revealed there is an ongoing investigation with respect to new affidavits that have been submitted to the court.
The affidavits, featured in the investigative documentary, contain new evidence from three eyewitnesses about the final hours of the three dead boys’ lives.
Reports suggest Circuit Court Judge Victor Hill will make an official ruling about reopening the case next week and then decide if the state prosecutor Scott Ellington will have to turn over documents related to the case, including the affidavits that were part of the criminal investigation in the film.
Berg says, ““The fact that after watching West of Memphis, the state of Arkansas is considering opening an investigation into what we uncovered in the film is a huge step in the right direction. West of Memphis is a living, breathing film and will continue to evolve, like the story, until there is total justice in this case. This story is far from over.”
Since September there have been a number of free screenings of West of Memphis in Arkansas and the film will screen in Little Rock on 30 October. It will open in cinemas in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day.