“Free the West Memphis Three!” - maybe you’ve heard the phrase, but do you know why their story is so alarming? Do you know the facts?
The guilty verdicts handed out to three Arkansas teens in a horrific capital murder case were popular in their home state - even upheld on appeal. But after two HBO documentaries called attention to the witch-hunt atmosphere at the trials, artists and other supporters raised concerns about the accompanying lack of evidence. Now, award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt provides the most comprehensive look yet into this endlessly shocking case.
For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas, seemed stymied. Then suddenly detectives charged three teenagers - alleged members of a satanic cult - with the killings. Despite stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were tried and convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison. They sentenced Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. Ten years later, all three remain in prison. Here, Leveritt unravels this seemingly medieval case and offers close-up views of its key participants - including one with an uncanny knack for evading the law.
Mara Leveritt has won several awards for investigative journalism, including Arkansas’s Booker Worthen Prize for her book The Boys on the Tracks. A contributing editor to the Arkansas Times, she lives in Little Rock.
“Devil’s Knot…leaves you wondering what new sick dread might be lying in wait on the next page, one of those that telegraphs the frustration and fear of its characters through the cover like a chunk of iron struck with a mallet. The monster Leveritt reveals in the end, however, is more terrifying than even the fork-tailed bogeymen conjured by West Memphis police and prosecutors to fit their crime. What Leveritt reveals to us is the most horrible fiend a rational person can imagine when matters of life and death are at stake: the Specter of Doubt.” (Arkansas Times)
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
Having greatly enjoyed, and been strongly affected by, all 3 HBO documentaries about this disturbing case, I was expecting the book to shed new light. Instead, it largely recapitulates what we already now from the documentaries (perhaps inevitable, since together they span 9+ hours), and trots out the same kind of baseless speculation and nearly libellous "maybe X did it," or "maybe Y did it," kinds of claims, without offering any compelling evidence for those accusations. I would watch the movies rather than read this book -- they're much more illuminating.
Final footnote: the performance left a great deal to be desired. Why do female narrators so often feel compelled to deepen their voices in a patently ridiculous fashion whenever a man is talking? (Given the fact that virtually everyone in this book is male, this is a *big* liability).
Also: I'm not entirely sure why the narrator also felt the need to do extremely unconvincing Arkansas accents for every single player in this story -- virtually all of whom are from Arkansas. Either find a narrator with an appropriate accent, or JUST READ NORMALLY. I beg you.
- La Becket
Justice's devil's knot
Yes, this book should be read by everyone to understand how arbitrary at best and corrupt at worst our criminal judicial system is. It was eye opening to see how far the prosecutors went to convict their chosen parties and to be right and how a case can be built from the top down.
I can not think of one I have heard that I would compare this book to. But I am certain the legal system is ripe with similar tales of corruption and lies.
That wouldn't be nice.
When the young men would not turn on the other boys in order to gain their freedom. They had more integrity than the educated idiots prosecuting them! Shows how intelligence does not correlate with character!
Listen to this book and you will know that justice is ofttimes a four letter word! Also, narrator voice is better suited for sing songy books of love and poetry not for a book so powerful.