Bullied as a kid, Peter Jackson fights back on film

Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:25pm EST
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By Zorianna Kit

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - The high-profile case of the West Memphis Three murderers might seem like an odd choice of films for director Peter Jackson, but the "Lord of the Rings" maker has come to Sundance with a documentary about the case and a new revelation of a possible suspect.

Jackson, who helped bankroll the defense of the three convicted killers who are now out of jail nearly 20 years after the crime, and the legal team claim they have testimony that the stepfather of one of the victims is the real murderer.

Whether that allegation eventually proves true will await prosecutors' action in West Memphis, Arkansas where the murders took place in 1993, and so far the prosecution has stuck by its belief they had the right culprits all along.

But where Jackson and one of the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, are concerned, their documentary "West of Memphis" and this new testimony takes the fight further.

"It's got to be dealt with," Jackson told Reuters on Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. "You can't just leave a murder case like that hanging in the air."

The high-profile case of the West Memphis Three who were tried and convicted as teens of murdering three boys prompted a call to action for Jackson when first told the disturbing tale of the young men linked to a grisly murder who were ultimately released from prison in August 2011.

"I was bullied and regarded as little bit of an oddball myself," Jackson told Reuters on Saturday. "And I see that happening to somebody else, so I just want to help them."

Jackson and director Amy Berg debuted "West of Memphis" at Sundance on Friday, and simultaneously defense lawyers issued a press release detailing their new revelations.   Continued...

<p>Peter Jackson, a producer of the film "West of Memphis", poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 21, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>