Free Ken Middleton

"How could I hold my grandkids if they thought I had done this?"

- Ken Middleton on taking the Alford Plea

The "Alford Plea"

If Ken would accept this Alford Plea, he could walk away a free man! They would consider his period of incarceration to that point sufficient enough to meet their sentencing requirement.

The term “Alford Plea” came as a result of the case North Carolina v. Alford. This case was adjudicated before the Supreme Court in 1970. In essence, the court ruled that there are no constitutional barriers in place to prevent a judge from accepting a defendant’s guilty plea while still professing their innocence. In other words, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find them guilty.

The "West Memphis Three"

The West Memphis Three are three men known for being convicted as teenagers in 1994, of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, ArkansasDamien Echols was sentenced to deathJessie Misskelley, Jr. to life imprisonment plus two 20-year sentences, and Jason Baldwin to life imprisonment. During the trial, the prosecution asserted that the juveniles killed the children as part of a Satanic ritual.

Following a 2010 decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court regarding newly produced DNA evidence and potential juror misconduct, the West Memphis Three negotiated a plea bargain with prosecutors. On August 19, 2011, they entered Alford pleas, which allowed them to assert their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them. Judge David Laser accepted the pleas and sentenced the three to time served. They were released with 10-year suspended sentences, having served 18 years and 78 days in prison.

Ken's Alford Plea Offer

Following Ken’s appeal hearing in 2004, he was returned to the penitentiary to await the judge’s ruling. As there was essentially no deadline for her ruling, all he could do was wait and hope for the best.

Standard procedure is for the defense to order transcripts from the court within days after a case has been heard.

In this particular instance, before the defense attorney had even ordered these documents, he was approached by the prosecutor. He was presented with a rather startling proposal. The prosecutor offered Ken a plea bargain. An Alford Plea.

The defense attorney consulted with Ken’s son, Cliff. Cliff informed the attorney that he didn’t believe his father would accept the offer but it should be presented to him nonetheless. Cliff was 100% correct in his assessment. Ken would not even CONSIDER taking the plea bargain even though he could have walked out the prison doors within days. Ken’s comment regarding the offer was that he could never hold his grandkids if they thought he had done this. He was more determined than ever to prove his innocence.

He was firm in his belief that the information and testimony presented during the hearing was more than sufficient to vacate his conviction.

Please put this information in perspective: Ken had faced repeated roadblocks from day one. He had been behind bars for over 15 years.

Also consider… why would the prosecutor make such an offer if they didn’t feel that Ken’s conviction would be overturned based on the facts presented during the hearing? Why wouldn’t he simply wait to allow the judge to rule? The prosecutor during the hearing was a separate litigator from the one that represented the state in the original trial. Did this new attorney come to the conclusion that Ken indeed was innocent?

Ken’s last statement on this particular matter was that he would die in prison before he would let anyone believe that he murdered his wife.