Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three

By Mara Leveritt
Read by Lorna Raver

15.78 Hours 10/24/2011 unabridged
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“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.

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Summary

Summary

“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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“The abuses of the criminal justice system shown here are so blatant—and so profoundly tragic—that they would be hard to believe were it not for the depth and evenhandedness of Mara Leveritt’s reporting.” Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
“Devil’s Knot is the brutal, riveting story of the Robin Hood Woods murders and the amateur justice meted out in the subsequent trial and sentencing. The true horror of Leveritt’s well-written book is that this barely believable fate could potentially befall any American.” Henry Rollins, American singer-songwriter, artist, and actor
“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
“An affecting account of a controversial trial in the wake of three child murders in Arkansas…Sure to be locally controversial, Leveritt’s carefully researched book offers a riveting portrait of a down-at-the-heels, socially conservative rural town with more than its share of corruption and violence.” Publishers Weekly
“Well written in descriptive language, [Devil’s Knot] is an indictment of a culture and legal system that failed to protect children as defendants or victims. Highly recommended.” Library Journal

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Mara Leveritt

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.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction
Runtime: 15.78
Audience: Adult
Language: English