14 years ago three 8-year-old boys were savagely murdered, their naked bodies bound with their own shoelaces found in a drainage ditch in West Memphis. 3 youths that became known as the West Memphis 3 were convicted of the murders in a trial filled with Satanic overtones and public outrage.

The investigation was sloppy, the only confession coerced and the trial filled with inconsistencies (Freedonian has a nice summary if you can ignore the anti-Christian ranting, the complete story can be found in Court TV’s Crime Library). The entire affair has been the subject of 2 films (with another on the way) and 3 books, and numerous celebrities support retrial.

The retrial may be on its way: DNA from one of the murdered boy’s step-father, Terry Hobbs, has been discovered on the rope used to tie one of the boys. Terry Hobbs confirms that an investigator for the defense told him that one of his hairs had been found in the knots of the shoelace used to tie victim Michael Moore.

On the other hand, is a single hair enough for a retrial? No way, especially as police chief Mike Allen thinks the hairs presence is due to “normal transference”.

Still, the mother of one of the boys expresses her doubts:

Pam Hobbs said she “chose to believe all those years” that Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were guilty, despite her realization during the trials that the prosecutors “didn’t have anything” and persistent doubts afterwards that the defendants “were smart enough or hateful enough to have done it by themselves and clean it up.”

Whether you believe the death penalty is a deterrent or not, I can’t get past those cases in which the system simply makes a mistake. Which is why I still don’t support the death penalty.

In this case, the only one of the West Memphis 3 that sits on death row was a budding sociopath that has an IQ that makes Paris Hilton look brilliant and a history of mental illness. But there is evidence enough to show that a terrible miscarriage of justice took place in West Memphis 14 years ago, ruining the lives of three young men. As Court TV’s writer puts it:

The fight to have the guilty verdict reversed would require that the judicial system, intrinsically bureaucratic in nature, look within itself and acknowledge its own weaknesses and shortcomings. Any admission of its own failure will only occur under extreme public pressure and outrage at the injustice which has occurred. It takes time for such a process to occur, statistically at least ten years. Jessie and Jason have a lifetime, but whether Damien’s time will run out before this slow process is complete is yet to be seen.