Eddie Vedder Watches West Memphis Three Win Their Freedom
Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder was among the witnesses in Jonesboro, Ark. today (Aug. 19) as the three men known as the West Memphis Three walked out of prison after 18 years of fighting for their freedom.
Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines, Vedder, and others celebrities, including Jack Black and Johnny Depp, have stood up for Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin since they were sentenced to death or life in prison for the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark.
Each of those stars have in appeared in at least one of the three 'Pardise Lost' documentaries explaining the inconsistencies within the case -- the third of which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this fall.
Vedder grew especially close to Echols, often visiting him in prison. In 2010 he told CNN's Larry King, "Probably one of the reasons I'm not as good a friend with the friends I now have is because I spend so much time on this case and being Damien's friend."
"And especially sometimes when I'm in open spaces. He's on my shoulder. I'm thinking about him a lot."
An already shaky case against the young men began to crumble in 2007 when DNA evidence from the crime scene failed to match any of the defendants or victims Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers. However, hair "not inconsistent with" one of the victims step-father's was found.
Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released today under an Alford Plea, under which they do not admit guilt.