Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In ... See full summary »
The accident made national headlines: a suburban mother drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in upstate New York and crashed head-on into an SUV, killing herself and seven others. In ... See full summary »
Explosive developments - implicating both the forensics laboratory of the police department of North Carolina, and Duane Deaver, its chief - recently saw the convicted subject of 'The ... See full summary »
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
In the quiet suburb of Cheshire, Connecticut, Jennifer Petit and her two young daughters were killed in a horrific home invasion; husband and father William Petit was the only one who ... See full summary »
"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not... See full summary »
In 1993, a horrific triple child murder was discovered in West Memphis, Arkansas, but the reaction to it precipitated a horror of its own. This film follows up on the story of the three boys, called the West Memphis Three, who were convicted for this crime with questionable evidence. For years, the boys' fate sparked a mass movement striving to prove their innocence while the state is equally determined to avoid admitting it could have been wrong. Through the swirl of new evidence and suspects, the Three tell their own tale about enduring this injustice against the opinions of the victim's families in a debate that eventually came to an inadequate resolution. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Todd and Dana Moore, the parents of 8 year-old victim Michael, wrote a letter to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences asking that the film be removed from consideration. In the letter they said that the film glorifies Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. Director Joe Berlinger had in fact acknowledged during an interview with salon.com that he determined Echols was innocent after speaking with him for five minutes prior to the trial. Despite the Moore's request(or perhaps because of it) the film was nominated for Best Documentary, Features for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. It lost to Undefeated (2011). See more »
Damien Wayne Echols:
If I focused on the things I can't change, the things that have hurt me, what people have done to me, then they would have already broken me. They would have killed me inside and out. I can get up in the morning and I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't hate my life. You have a lot of people in here that all they can think about is what they don't have and how much they want out and how much they want something else. But for some reason, this situation has helped me to see more of what I do ...
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Certainly an interesting documentary about the high-profile case of the West Memphis Three (Baldwin, Echols, Misskelley), convicted of killing three young boys in eastern Arkansas in 1993. The documentary takes the side of the defense, in saying the three teenagers (WM3) were railroaded through based on flimsy evidence. The verdict in 1994 was probably unjust, given the general absence of forensic evidence at the time. More recently, DNA evidence shows no DNA connection between the three teenagers and the three young victims. On the other hand, the program excludes some of the prosecution's case, which shows blatant bias on the part of the program's producers.
In contrast, bias appears much more pronounced in the legal system in 1993, and included police coercion, sloppy police work, and obvious jury misconduct, among other problems. The small town of West Memphis was overwhelmed with emotional hysteria of family and neighbors, all wanting revenge for the killings. The police were out to convict the easiest target, and the prosecutor wanted a quick win, and was facilitated by a judge who was anything but unbiased. No DNA testing was available back then.
At one point in the program, Misskelley says he was at a Dyess, Arkansas wrestling match at the time of the murders. So how is it that the prosecutor was able to convince a jury that Misskelley was guilty? Instead of answering the alibi question, the program proceeds down a different investigative avenue.
That is one glaring problem in a program that overall does not flow well. It jerks back and forth between people and time periods. There are so many people involved in this case, it's hard to keep track of names and faces. I also didn't like the inclusion of Hollywood celebrities who, despite their lack of involvement in the original trials, think they can determine the three guys' innocence via superficial arguments and secondary sources, which reeks of celebrity arrogance.
Despite the documentary's biased point of view in favor of the WM3, and despite how the program is put together, it is worth watching. By inference, it shows how the jury system is rigged against a defendant in a murder trial. In the future, one would hope that juries will be outlawed, and replaced by forensic evidence only, correctly obtained and tested, that proves innocence or guilt. Having hysterical people render life and death decisions based on the games lawyers play is truly frightening.
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