This Monday’s edition of the music-and-cultural-arts program “The Freak Power Ticket” featured an interview with former death-row inmate Damien Echols, his wife, Lorri Davis, and Amy Berg, writer/director of the new documentary, West of Memphis, which screened at the recent Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
West of Memphis, produced by new filmmakers Davis and Echols, in collaboration with Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson (best known for the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy), reexamines the case of the West Memphis Three (WM3) — Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley — convicted of the shocking 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys, Christopher Byers, Steven Branch, and Michael Moore, in a small town in Arkansas. Many came to see the case as an example of modern-day witch-hunting and criminal injustice.
Spending 18 years in prison, the trio were released in August 2011 after negotiating an “Alford Plea,” a deal struck by the State of Arkansas to avoid a retrial, agreed to by the defendants to preserve the life and deteriorating health of Mr. Echols.
Over the course of the interview, Echols, Davis, and Berg spoke with producer/host Ted Coe about: the making of West of Memphis; new evidence, witnesses, and other developments related to the case (including the emergence of a new suspect); and last summer’s surprise release of the WM3. Other topics included advocacy journalism and documentary cinema, religious hysteria, and media sensationalism and ethics. The conversation also shed light on Davis’ and Echols’ prison romance and marriage; Echols’ youthful experiences; his interest in literature, religion, and philosophy; and his sudden adjustment to life on the outside.
The broadcast blended in tracks by musicians associated with the case working in various genres (including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Pearl Jam, Henry Rollins, Tom Waits, and more), plus Echols’ own writings. To see Monday’s complete playlist, CLICK BELOW.