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'Memphis' and why death penalty must be repealed

7:30 AM EST, February 14, 2013

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As Maryland legislators debate the repeal of the state's death penalty, everyone should go to see an excellent documentary, "West of Memphis," directed by Amy Berg. Sadly, three teenagers were falsely convicted of murders which someone else committed and they had their youth taken from them. Only because of the dedication of so many supporters were the three released after serving around 19 years in prison. However, they can't be compensated by the state of Arkansas because the government refuses to admit its malfeasance.

I greatly appreciated the interview related to the movie ("Q&A: Freed Damian Echols," Feb. 8). Mr. Echols was the only one of the three who wound up on death row.

What I did not like was Michael Phillips' review ("West Memphis Three still seeking justice," Feb. 8). First, the film should have gotten four stars, not three. Second, Mr. Phillips wrote this, "I bought Berg's perspective, though, I wonder if her film appears weaker because of her chosen collaborators [the esteemed director Peter Jackson and Lorrie Davis, Mr. Echols' wife]."

Consider the fact that a jury convicted the West Memphis Three without any evidence. This is an injustice exposed very skillfully in the documentary. And Mr. Echols, for example, is fortunate to have even survived death row. In the next few weeks, Maryland legislators will repeal the death penalty. When will the legislators in Arkansas do the same?

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

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