'Paradise Lost' helmers react to release of trio in 1993 murder trail

Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly, known as the West Memphis 3, were set free on Friday to the delight of many Hollywood supporters, but perhaps none were more relieved than “Paradise Lost” filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, whose award-winning HBO documentary series brought the 1993 Arkansas murder case to the national spotlight.

“Eighteen years and three films ago, we started this journey to document the terrible murders of three innocent boys and the subsequent circus that followed the arrests and convictions of Baldwin, Echols and Misskelly,” said director and producer Joe Berlinger in a statement. “To see our work culminate in the righting of this tragic miscarriage of justice is more than a filmmaker could ask for.”

In May of 1993, the bodies of three boys were found next to a muddy creek in the wooded Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Ark. A month later, three teenagers, Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly, were arrested, accused and convicted of brutally raping, mutilating and killing the boys. The “Paradise Lost” films were quick to question the authorities’ case against the West Memphis 3, who soon garnered the support of several Hollywood activists, including Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins.

“Today, we, along with HBO, are humbled to be a part of this remarkable outcome,” said “Paradise Lost” co-director Bruce Sinofsky on Friday.

The third West Memphis 3 documentary, “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” is set to bow at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

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