The New York Times

Now Damien Echols Will Teach You the Secrets of Magick

As a teenager in the mid-1990s, Damien Echols dabbled in Wicca and wrote love spells in his journal. When three 8-year-old boys — Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Beyers — were found dead in the woods in West Memphis, Arkansas, police immediately focused their investigation on Echols and his friends Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. They were pentagram-doodling, Metallica-listening nonconformists in their Bible Belt community, and they were charged despite the lack of any physical evidence tying them to the crime scene and a dozen witnesses placing them elsewhere. During the murder trial, prosecutors painted Echols as the ringleader of a satanic group that had murdered the boys in an occult ritual. Echols, who seems congenitally unable to be anyone other than himself, didn’t do himself any favors on the stand. When the prosecutor asked if he read books by Aleister Crowley, “a noted author in the field of satanic worship,” Echols said no, then added, “I would have read them if I saw them.” In 1996, he was found guilty of the boys’ murders and sent to death row. Baldwin and Misskelley both received life sentences. Thanks to three HBO documentaries about the case, the convicted men became known as

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