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Michael Henry Wilson
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In 1994, three nonconformist boys in West Memphis, Arkansas were convicted for a horrific triple child murder. However, the original film shows how questionable evidence and a prejudiced community instead led to an apparent miscarriage of justice. The producers return to West Memphis to meet the Three again and the grassroots movement that has arisen to exonerate the Three. However, the father of one of the victims, John Mark Byers, is profiled as well as he belligerently asserts the three's guilt even as new evidence and his own criminal record draws suspicion on himself. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Generally riveting follow up of the case where three quite possibly innocent young men sit in prison for murdering three children.
Certainly, at least given what the two documentaries show, there is way beyond 'reasonable doubt' that they're responsible. But what was a moderate flaw in the first film becomes worse here; In the same way the prosecution disturbingly made the evidence fit their theory, throwing out, ignoring, or belittling what didn't fit, the film-makers seem to play some of the same game in reverse.
Crucial questions about alibis are never answered, and this sequel spends too much energy trying to pin guilt on Mark Byers, step-father of one of the murdered boys.
Is there some spooky circumstantial evidence that he may have been involved? Absolutely. But proof? The man even voluntarily takes a lie detector test, and passes with flying colors, which the film- makers then dismiss since the man is on various prescription mood altering drugs. But do we ever hear an expert say those drugs might affect the test? No.
More disturbing, the film seems to imply he's guilty because he looks and acts weird, and says confusing and contradictory things, the very sort of 'guilt by odd behavior' association both films attack in relation to the three boys found guilty. The fact that Byers (supposedly) has a brain tumor, and what effect that might have on his outward behavior is never explored at all. And watching this character at such length starts to get dull after a while, as his rants go on and on.
None-the-less, this is still a very interesting film, the most moving sections being those spent with the three now young men in jail for a crime they likely didn't commit. All have grown up a great deal in the 4 years since the last film, and are sad and articulate reminders of how horrifying it can be that people never given the benefit of a fair trial are allowed to sit and rot in prison. And the amazing lack of despair or bitterness they show is a testament to human resilience.
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