Damien Echols, one of the three men known in pop culture as the West Memphis Three, may have had an easier time staying strong behind bars due to the fact a significant amount of star power backed the men — including Hollywood heavyweight Johnny Depp.
Damien Echols and his two co-defendants were finally released in 2011 after more than a decade behind bars for the murders of three boys. As the years wore on, it became apparent Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin were not the perpetrators of the horrendous crime that stunned a community and forever altered the lives of many.
But Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin still spent 18 years of their lives, each, behind bars before they were freed, and in that time, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and many other celebrities threw their weight behind the now-men to see them released from jail after nearly two decades of wrongful incarceration.
But now that Echols has been free for more than a year, his pal Depp has not forgotten him to move on to a more current cause. The two still are in touch — and at the premiere of a new documentary about the ordeal, West of Memphis, Depp and Echols spoke to reporters about their matching tattoos.
It was a documentary, Depp says, that caught his attention in regards to the case. The actor says after he watched the Paradise Lost documentaries about the plight of Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin, he was unable to turn away from the injustice:
“You saw those initial documentaries, you make a choice: Am I going to watch the thing and go ‘Wow, that’s really horrible,’ and go out and get a milkshake?”
Damien Echols and his friends finally were released after they entered an Alford plea last year, allowing them to maintain their innocence but plead guilty. And now, Depp and Echols often hit up the tattoo shop as the latter enjoys his freedom — Depp explains of their matching ink:
“This one Damien designed. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and it means quite a lot to me.”
Did attention from stars like Johnny Depp and Henry Rollins make you aware of the plight of the West Memphis Three?