Damien Echols, left, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., center, and Jason Baldwin wait at the start of a news conference at the Craighead County Court House in Jonesboro, Ark., Friday, Aug. 19.
Less than 24 hours after the release of the murder defendants known as The West Memphis Three, two films chronicling the time the trio spent behind bars are in the works, reported Deadline.
On Friday, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley--aka The West Memphis 3--were released from prison after serving 18 years for the 1993 murders of three young boys, allegedly as part of a Satanic ritual. Their fate became something of a cause celebre when, in 2007, new forensic evidence revealed that no DNA from any of the men was at the crime scene. An unusual deal allowed the men to plead "no contest," thereby acknowledging the evidence against them, while allowing them to maintain their innocence.
In addition to the third installment in the HBO documentary series following the case, called Paradise Lost, a feature film has already been treated and attached to a director. The film, known as Devil's Knot after the Mara Leveritt book of the same name, has director Atom Egoyan ("The Sweet Hereafter", "Chloe") on board. The package includes the life rights deals to a number of characters in the plot, including a private investigator who's been working since 1993 to have the verdict overturned. Paradise Lost: Purgatory will also be recut to include the "happy ending" of the three's release.
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood latched on to the release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, given the number of celebrities who championed their cause. The likes of Johnny Depp and Peter Jackson were among the crusaders of the West Memphis Three's freedom.