Posted: Aug 19, 2011 2:27 PM
Updated: Aug 19, 2011 2:27 PM
Source: Associated Press
JONESBORO, Ark. - They've been behind bars since their conviction in the death of three Boy Scouts in 1993. But now, three men in Arkansas are going free immediately.
Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley agreed to a plea bargain Friday in a court in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
It lets them maintain their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence against them.
They were credited with time served. One of the men is being freed from death row.
A prosecutor says they're still on probation and if they re-offend, they could be sent back to prison for 21 years.
Prosecutor Scott Ellington says he believes "this case is closed and there are no other individuals involved."
The big break in the gruesome killings came when Misskelley unexpectedly confessed, and implicated the other two men. He later recanted, and defense lawyers said the teen had gotten several parts of the story wrong.
His confession wasn't admitted into evidence, but lawyers for the other two men said jurors had heard about it anyway.
A 1996 HBO documentary about the case drew the attention of Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and other celebrities who helped fund a legal team that worked to win the three a new trial.