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[Movies] Peter Jackson and Damien Echols Talk West of Memphis
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.21.2012

Coming Soon spoke to producer Peter Jackson and Damien Echols about the documentary West of Memphis, which covers the controversial murder trial and imprisonment of the West Memphis Three. Echols was one of the people wrongfully imprisoned.

Here are highlights:

Jackson on when he found out about the case and got involved: "Yeah, Fran Walsh and I watched it in New Zealand and the case was about eight or nine years old at that stage, so we assumed that there'd been an ending. We looked up the case on the internet and we were pretty horrified to find out that Damien and Jason and Jessie were still in that prison, and that it was sort of stagnating. Nothing really positive was happening. There'd been some appeals. They had lost the appeals. So we contacted Lorri Davis, Damien's wife, and offered a donation, which many thousands of people had done, but then Lorri and Fran became friends. It was a sort of an amazing friendship blossomed, which Fran got involved very, very personally in helping with the investigative side of the case. We funded a lot of scientific investigations, DNA testing, hired expertise that the guys had never had access to before because it's expensive to bring in some of the country's best pathologists and forensic experts. Then it stopped being, to us, a case about the principles of justice, to some degree, and it very quickly became personal because of the friendship that we got very emotionally involved in it."

Echols on if the case has been reopened to find the real killers: "No, they haven't done anything whatsoever. We're still asking it. As a matter of fact, we're asking people to call Scott Ellington and this is the prosecutor's number. The number is 870-932-1513."

Jackson on Scott Ellington: "He's the guy who's interviewed at the end of the movie that admits basically that they were only released because it was going to be too expensive to pay the compensation. That's the prosecutor who's on camera at the very end of the film. Now, in theory, he says all the right things about how he's happy to review new evidence and he's happy to follow up on anything compelling, but he's an elected official, just like we were talking about. Unless somebody puts pressure on him or he gets the idea in his head that it's going to be beneficial for him personally, politically, to actually to do the right thing, it's easier for him to do absolutely nothing, much easier to do nothing."

Echols on if he's had any closure: "No, it's still very much alive. We can't move on until we do have a sense of closure, and the only way that's going to happen is us letting the state of Arkansas know we're not going to go anywhere until we see the right thing done. We have to keep this in the public eye. We have to keep the focus on it. We want to be exonerated. We want the person who belongs in prison to be in prison, and we want the people who did this to us to be held responsible. Only then are we going to be able to move on and have a normal life."


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