Joe Berlinger - Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

Berlinger is best known for the breakthrough film series "Paradise Lost," which documents the murder trial and the subsequent legal battles of three teenagers wrongfully convicted of murder. The community of West Memphis, Arkansas believed that the three teenagers (known as the West Memphis Three) murdered three eight-year-old boys as part of a Satanic ritual, even though no physical evidence linked the three young men to the crime. The "Paradise Lost" film series documents the 17-year ordeal of these three young men from arrest to conviction to years of unsuccessful appeals and finally to a successful appeal.

The film series brought mainstream attention to the case, and many celebrities took up the cause of getting these young men out of prison and getting Damien Echols off of death row. The mainstream attention, brought on by the documentary series, allowed for a well-financed legal team to investigate every lead in the case. These subsequent investigations showed the incompetence of the West Memphis police, who had never dealt with this type of crime, and so the police let other suspects disappear from the community; for example, a man covered in blood used a restroom in a restaurant within walking distance of the murder scene shortly after the time of the murders. In addition to the failure to apprehend the suspect, the police lost the blood samples, even though this strange man left blood all over the bathroom. This mistake meant that the experts could never determine if this strange man was covered in the vicitims' blood.

Ultimately, the defense team hired DNA experts to test genetic material after fighting the prosecution for years to get access to it, and these tests again proved that no physical evidence linked the West Memphis Three to the murders; rather, a hair from one boy's stepfather was found tied into one of the shoelaces used to hogtied the victims.

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Famous quotes related to paradise lost:

    This seems a long while ago, and yet it happened since Milton wrote his Paradise Lost. But its antiquity is not the less great for that, for we do not regulate our historical time by the English standard, nor did the English by the Roman, nor the Roman by the Greek.... From this September afternoon, and from between these now cultivated shores, those times seemed more remote than the dark ages.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)