Reporter who followed West Memphis 3 calls case "preposterous"

(WMC-TV) - Weeks after the West Memphis Three were freed from prison, a former journalist who helped keep their cause in the national spotlight spoke at the University of Memphis Law School Friday.

Many people are passionate about the case of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, but few have chronicled the case from the beginning like Mara Leveritt.

Leveritt has spent 18 years of her life following the developments of the West Memphis Three case.

"The way the whole thing began was preposterous, and it ended rather preposterously as well," said Leveritt.

A native Arkansan, Leveritt spoke to a packed audience Friday.  She said Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley know her as the only reporter to archive their innocence since 1993.

"I did the first interview with Damien on death row in 1994, right after his conviction, and I have been keeping in touch with them in prison for 18 years," said Leveritt.

Leveritt turned her reports into a novel called "Devil's Knot."  She said her inspiration came when she heard claims the West Memphis Three had no real local support.

"The Arkansas officials are saying the only people supporting this case are people from Los Angeles who don't know what they're talking about," said Leveritt.

When Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley walked out of an Arkansas courthouse in August as free men, Leveritt says she saw record book sales nationwide.

"'Devil's Knot' just sold out in this region and pretty much across the country," she said.  "I was at the courthouse for the release and then I was here in Memphis for the party at the Madison."

With a movie deal now in the works, Leveritt said "Devil's Knot" is a book that has another chapter to tell.

Leveritt won several awards for her investigative reporting and was named the Arkansas Journalist of the Year.  She said she considers the West Memphis Three case to be just as important to American history as the Salem Witch Trials.

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