Having brought considerable attention to the case of West Memphis, Ark., teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were convicted of the vicious 1993 murders of three local second graders on what appears to have been highly dubious evidence, documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky returned to the scene of the crime. Their made for cable follow-up recapitulates the facts of the case that they so painstakingly examined in PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN WOOD HILLS (1996), then focuses the bulk of its attention on John Mark Byers, the stepfather of victim Christopher Byers. Byers was a vivid and peculiar presence in the first film — he seemed an obvious suspect, though local police ignored him in favor of pursuing the three teenagers, who aroused suspicion by wearing black and listening to Metallica — but here his behavior is almost unbelievably self-incriminating. Byers, who seems perpetually drunk or stoned, revels in the filmmakers' attention, spewing theatrical venom against the alleged killers, contradicting himself repeatedly and behaving as though his stepson's were motivating back-story in a WWE vendetta. Berlinger and Sinofsky reveal that Byers had all his teeth extracted in the years after the murders — a highly suspicious action in light of the fact that the children's corpses bore human bite marks — and that his wife has since died of "undetermined" causes. Byers is eventually persuaded to take a lie detector test and when he passes, he crows gleefully, "I knew I was innocent!" In between watching Byers make a spectacle of himself, Berlinger and Sinofsky re-interview Damien Echols the only one of the three defendants to receive a death sentence and chronicle the unsuccessful efforts of Internet advocates to "Free the West Memphis Three."
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: Having brought considerable attention to the case of West Memphis, Ark., teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were convicted of the vicious 1993 murders of three local second graders on what appears to have been highly dubious… (more)