West Memphis Three's Damien Echols Releases Book 'Life After Death'

West Memphis Three's Damien Echols Releases Book 'Life After Death'

Two days after the 20 year anniversary of the murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, one of the men convicted of killing them released his life story.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Two days after the 20 year anniversary of the murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, one of the men convicted of killing them released his life story.

Damien Echols spent 18 years on death row. Now, nearly two years after his release, he still doesn’t believe in the plea that ultimately saved his life.

His book covers everything from his childhood, to sleepless nights in prison, to his ultimate release. It includes prison journals and personal, never before seen, photos from inside prison walls.

Not many people can say they've lived life after death row, but that's exactly what Echols is doing. "I've had so many different adventures," Echols explains, "I've been inside active volcanoes and paragliding, every single day brings something new."

He calls every day a new experience since walking out of prison in August 2011. "You always live in fear in prison, you never go into a deep sleep." Echols says, "Out here you can finally relax, enjoy your life without the state of Arkansas trying to murder you."

It's all hauntingly described in his first book, Life After Death. Echols spent 18 years on death row, but he never let himself think he would be executed. "You're going to move in the direction of which you focus your attention on in life," he says, "and we didn't want to move toward an execution, so we didn't focus on that. We always kept our attention focused on the day I would leave prison and we would get to be together."

That day came in controversial way by means of an Alford Plea. Echols, Jessie Misskelly and Jason Baldwin, known as the West Memphis Three, made an agreement with the State of Arkansas, pleading guilty while maintaining their innocence and were released. It's a deal Echols did for his life, but a deal he doesn't believe in. "No one on death row in Arkansas has ever been exonerated in the entire history of the state and this plea allowed them to maintain that." He continues, "It's really disappointing because it makes it so the situation isn't over for you, you don't have a sense of closure, we want to be exonerated, we want the person who belongs in prison in prison and we want the officials who did this to us held responsible for what they did."

Even though he's released from prison he says because of the plea he's not really free.

Echols has not been back to Arkansas since his release. He will return this fall for the first time to speak at a university in Conway.

Life After Death is in stores now.
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