BLOG: West Memphis 3 events in Jonesboro - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

BLOG: West Memphis 3 events in Jonesboro

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WEST MEMPHIS, AR -

(WMC-TV) - Jeramia Trotter blogged West Memphis 3 events Friday in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The judge in the case did not allow any live cameras, blogging, texting or tweeting from the courtroom.  Jeramia Trotter was outside the courtroom, presenting the latest information as it filtered out.

1:09PM: After the announcement, the crowd around the courthouse is still large, but is starting to thin out. The supporters of the WM3 are exuberant. Cheers break out intermittently from the crowd.

12:33PM: All three men are free to leave Arkansas. They aren't under any travel restrictions.

12:31PM: Damien says Lori spends all her waking time on this case. Happy to be free with his wife by his side.

12:29PM: Attorney says the fact that all three men are out of jail proves they aren't guilty. "Does anyone think if the state thought they were guilty they would be sitting here today?"

12:27PM: "Can you point the authorities in the right direction, towards the right person?" they all say they don't know anything.

12:26PM: Attorney: I'm so proud to represent Jason.

12:23PM: "Damien, how are you feeling,," reporter asks. "Very much in shock."

12:19PM: Someone from a table at the front of the room just said the WM3 deserved a round of applause. Different people started clapping and yelling, most of it seemed to come from the dozen or so people surrounding the table where Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., are seated.

12:16PM: All three men and their attorneys just entered the room.

12:07PM: Defense team just handed out four page official statement.

12:04PM: Prosecutor says Judge Laser was likely going to grant new trials and it's very likely the WM3 would have either been found not guilty or wouldn't be found guilty of capital murder.

He says that deaths of witnesses, stale evidence and new DNA techniques would have made trial difficult for state.

12:02PM: Prosecutor says he believes the WM3 defendants are the ones who murdered the victims. He says that while the case is closed and they're not looking for anyone else, the state can file new charges if a new suspect is developed.

12:00PM: Guilty plea means that the WM3 will not be able to sue the state.

11:58AM: "This is not an offer that the (victims')  families had to accept. They did not have veto power." - prosecutor

11:56AM: The defense team approached the Attorney General's Office with the idea of today's plea deal.

11:53AM: Prosecutor: "I never entertained a deal that would overturn guilty verdicts."

All men can go free, but if they break the law could be sentenced to 21 additional years.

"They'll be free men when they walk down here," said prosecutor.

11:51AM: All three men entered guilty pleas. Prosecutor says he thinks the men would've received new trials, but after so much time it would be hard to get fair trials.

11:49AM: The hearing is over.

11:41AM: We're waiting on the news conference to begin and to see how many people will be allowed in the room. Action News 5 has a producer, photographer and me already inside, plus Janice Broach in t he courtroom and Anna Marie Hartman outside.

11:36AM: A sheriff's deputy is walking through the media gathered in the basement and checking ID's. There were some very nervous looking reporters for a few moments.

11:32AM: HBO has a crew here. They're in Jonesboro working on the third installment of Paradise Lost according to a press release we received earlier today.

Here's part of the release:

Set to premiere on HBO in January 2012, PARADISE LOST 3:  PURGATORY revisits the case of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were incarcerated for the 1993 "West Memphis Three" child murders, which they maintain they did not commit.  The film will have its theatrical premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival with a number of prestigious festival dates to follow this Fall.  This film tells the entire story from arrests in 1993, the growing movement to the entire appeals process, uncovering new evidence and, now their release.

11:30AM: Uh oh. The fire marshall just walked in. He's looking at the evacuation plans for the room. Looks like they're going to be very strict about the number of people allowed in.

11:24AM: The media is starting to gather in the court building's basement ahead of the planned news conference. There aren't many people in the room yet, but that will change shortly.

11:08AM: Before the start of the public hearing, a large group of people filed out of the court building. They believed they were going to be allowed into the hearing, but said they were turned away by the fire marshall.

Kody Bradshaw and Judy Thompson drove about three and a half hours from Gurdon, AR, to Jonesboro.

"We didn't get any sleep last night," Thompson said.

They arrived at the courthouse at 5AM, and were turned away from the door only minutes before the hearing was set to start.

"It's okay," said Bradshaw. "If this thing goes the way we think it will, it's okay."

11:01AM: Janice Broach is oneo f 18 reporters inside the public hearing. The WM3's publicist told us that all three men will participate in a press conference after the hearing.

10:55AM: Mitchell Eaton should be attending class at Harrisburg High School, but instead he's standing outside in the rain in Jonesboro.

"I had to take out today," the senior said.

Eaton became interested in the WM3 case after hearing his parents talk about the case around the dinner table one night.

"It's pretty much become an obsession with me," he said. "They've been in jail longer than I've been alive. It's hard to conceive something like that"

10:41AM: There are dozens of people milling around outside the court building. The vast majority are supporters of the men whose fate will be decided in court today. However, some people are here just for the spectacle. Nugene Bell, of Jonesboro, said while he thinks the men should be set free, he really came to watch the spectacle.

10:19AM: Damien Echols' mother says the hearing and the possibility her son may be released is "remarkable." Steve Branch, a father of one of the victims shook his head and said "No comment" when asked what he would like to say to Damien.

10:13AM: John Mark Byers, the father of one of the young victims, just gave a lengthy, impromptu news conference outside the court building.

9:55AM: Media from across the country have descended on Jonesboro for today's hearing.  However, only a small pool of reporters will actually be allowed in. People are filing into the courtroom now, and it is clear that many, many people will be turned away.

Action News 5's Janice Broach will be in the courtroom.  Because we can not take the hearing "live" on-air and on our internet stream, we will broadcast it and stream a recording of it as soon as it is available.

9:12AM: We're told the West Memphis 3 has already entered the courthouse in Jonesboro.  Apparently, they were able to go in through a rear entrance and dodge most cameras surrounding the building. 

Check back throughout the day, and refresh this page for updates.

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