Vedder And Maines Cheer As West Memphis 3 Walk Free

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August 19, 2011 | 2:15pm EST

Rocker Eddie Vedder and Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines celebrated in court on Friday as the three incarcerated men they’ve been seeking justice for over the killings of three boy scouts in 1993 were freed from prison.
Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin – known as the West Memphis 3 – were each sentenced to life in an Arkansas prison in 1994 for the satanic killings. Echols was also sentenced to death and has been on death row ever since his sentence began.

The three men protested their innocence for 17 years and their fight for a new trial attracted the attention of Pearl Jam frontman Vedder, Maines and actor Johnny Depp amid reports the DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime did not match the trio.

Celebrities like Winona Ryder, Metallica and Henry Rollins also became supporters of the jailed trio – Rollins even organized a benefit album for them.

Echols, Misskelley, Jr. and Baldwin appeared in Craighead County Courthouse in Arkansas for an emergency hearing on Friday, during which all three pleaded guilty to the crime in exchange for their freedom.

They walked free from court and in a press conference immediately after the ruling, Echols and Misskelley, Jr. both asserted that they had served 18 years behind bars for a crime they “did not commit”.

Baldwin claimed he was against the idea of taking the plea deal because he didn’t want to admit guilt, but did so to save Echols from death row.

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