Johnny Depp’s Friend Damien Echols Would Have Been Executed Today, But Lives Thanks To Musicians [Opinion]

Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson became convinced Damien Echols was innocent, after watching the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. Paradise Lost explaining the circumstances and evidence that convicted Echols and two of his friends of a gruesome triple homicide in Arkansas.

Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson decided they would do everything they could to save Damien Echols from wrongful execution. Other musicians were similarly moved by Paradise Lost.

Damien Echols, a member of Johnny Depp’s inner circle of friends, was one of the West Memphis Three. The infamous case involved the savage, allegedly ritual killing of three eight-year-old boys. It was a horrendous crime, and no one felt safe until the culprits were caught.

Johnny Depp’s pal Damien Echols recalls 1993 in West Memphis, Arkansas History. Damien Echols was 18 at the time. Damien is quoted in the Guardian from Damien Echols book Life After Death.

“It was the subject of every newscast, on the front page of every newspaper, it was all they were talking about on the radio. If you went to the grocery store, that’s what they would be talking about in the checkout line.”

Authorities suspected three teens of the crime, mostly because they enjoyed heavy metal rock music. Police became convinced that the murder was carried out by Satanists, and that rock music was related to Satanism. Damien Echols explains that he and his friends were accustomed to police harassment, as quoted in the Guardian.

“There were three cops, a sort of juvenile task force, who used to harass pretty much every kid in our neighborhood. These cops had been harassing me and Jason for about two years before they finally decided they were going to pin these murders on me.”

Johnny Depp had seen the documentary and then checked out the facts. It was apparent to him that a mistake had been made. Damien Echols is quoted in the Guardian alleging the that trial was “over before we even walked in.”

“The local media had run so many stories about Satanic orgies and human sacrifices that by the time we walked into that courtroom the jury saw the trial as nothing more than a formality. It was over before we even walked in.”

Damien Echols at a court hearing before his release in 2011

Johnny Depp had no idea this was happening at the time, and Echols served 18 years before being released. Damien Echols at first thought that he would somehow be rescued from his horrific plight. Little did he know that someday Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson and other musicians would eventually come to his aid.

“Part of me was still in denial. In the US, from the time you’re old enough to speak you hear about how you’re innocent until proven guilty and you have all of these rights. Part of me was still thinking that someone’s going to put an end to this, someone’s going to stop and do the right thing.”

Johnny Depp Marilyn Manson and several other music icons worked to save Damien from lethal injection. DNA evidence proved Damien Echols innocence. Attorneys were able to work out an Alford plea.

Johnny Depp AKA Jack Sparrow and Hollywood Vampires member

Johnny Depp and Hollywood musicians were not the only ones watching Paradise Lost. Lorri Davis was so heavily impacted by the film, she started writing Damien in prison. Damien wrote her in return, and soon the couple fell in love according to The New York Times.

Because Johnny Depp would not let this go, Echols is alive but yesterday, Damien Echols had something important to tell the world on Twitter.

Today, Thanks to Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson, and other celebrities, Damien Echols has a good life. Echols is married to Lorri Davis and has become a successful author. Those who enjoy Damien Echols books, Life after Death and Yours for Eternity: A Love Story on Death Row should be truly thankful Damien is alive today.

Damien Echols feelings about today must be beyond anything conceivable to most people, so Damien Echols kept his tweet short. How would it feel to know, one was scheduled to die today but was spared?


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Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson saved the wrongfully accused Damien Echols from an execution scheduled for today.

[Featured Image by Charles Sykes/Getty Images]