Johnny Depp defends convicted murderers ‘West Memphis Three’

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Not content to simply tell the world that child rapist Roman Polanski “is not a predator”, Johnny Depp has decided to put his time and effort to freeing three convicted murderers known as “The West Memphis Three”. I won’t go into any depth about the crimes these three men were convicted of, because this isn’t a legal or crime blog, and the details of the case are really gruesome, but if you’d like to know more, try this or this. Basically, these three men were convicted (while still teenagers) of murdering three eight-year-old boys. The teenagers (dubbed “The West Memphis Three”) were thought to have committed the crimes because of some kind of satanic urges/rituals. Anyway, Johnny is the latest celebrity to take up the cause of the West Memphis Three, and will even appear on Sunday’s 48 Hours Mystery about the case.

Johnny Depp may have fallen through a rabbit hole. To promote his movie version of “Alice in Wonderland,” he’s advocating the release of three men convicted of murdering three boys in a suspected satanic ritual.

Depp will appear on CBS’s “48 Hours Mystery” on Sunday to call for reopening the case of the West Memphis Three — convicted as teenagers of beating three 8-year-olds to death in 1994 — because he believes they never got a fair trial.

Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison, and Damien Echols, who is on death row, have all spent 16 years behind bars. But Depp joins such supporters as Eddie Vedder, Metallica, Winona Ryder and the Dixie Chicks in arguing they were convicted because they were devotees of heavy-metal music, Stephen King novels and the occult.

Famously private Depp’s agreement to appear on the “mystery” news documentary show even shocked CBS workers, with one staffer telling us last night: “Johnny Depp on ’48 Hours’ — are you joking?”

But Depp, who’ll also be on “The CBS Early Show” Thursday to promote “Alice,” his new Disney movie produced by Tim Burton, says Echols is running out of time.

He says on “48 Hours,” “I firmly believe Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are totally innocent. It was a need for swift justice to placate the community. Damien Echols is on death row to be killed by lethal injection.”

The “48 Hours” investigation will highlight supposedly crucial new DNA and forensic evidence which could potentially clear the trio, as well as alleged juror misconduct that contributed to the convictions.

A rep for Depp — who plays the Mad Hatter in the 3D “Alice” being released March 5 with Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover and Anne Hathaway — did not return calls or an e-mail.

[From Page Six]

I was vaguely familiar with the case, and re-reading some of the details reminded me of just how sketchy the prosecution’s case was at the time. I have no idea if these men committed the crimes when they were teenagers, but I do think they should definitely get a new trial. There’s enough new evidence, and enough evidence of wrong-doing in the prosecution’s case (including recanted statements and shoddy forensic work) that the best solution would simply be a retrial. I wonder if Depp’s involvement will make a difference?

Here’s a clip from Depp’s appearance on 48 Hours:

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55 Responses to “Johnny Depp defends convicted murderers ‘West Memphis Three’”

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  1. Huma says:

    I’ll never be able to forgive him regarding the Roman Polanski comments.

    Apparently he’s just another ignorant celeb that thinks that justice is a barter system. Screw that noise.

  2. Praise St. Angie! says:

    I remember this case too, and those kids were railroaded.

    that being said, his defense of Polanski is not even close to his defense of these men.

    Polanski pleaded guilty and fled.

    these guys had a bogus trial.

    totally different situations.

  3. gblinda says:

    you have to watch the documentary that was on HBO, I think there was also a follow up. The stepfather of the one boy that was the most brutally killed, is creepy as hell. I believe the boys mother also died of an od?

  4. Leticia says:

    I don’t know anything about this case or if the men are guilty or innocent. My sympathies are with the three boys who were murdered. It always seems like the victims are so quickly forgotten.

  5. Mairead says:

    The tone of the first and last paragraphs are very contradictory, you’re either disdainful of his stance or you feel that it has merit. I have noticed the tabloid habit of a deliberately provocative title or opening paragraph giving way to a completely contradictory body. Whilst that sort of caper might be grand for the likes of The Sun which has papers to shift and Rupert Murdoch to make rich, surely the benefit of a blog is the opportunity to give a more measured approach?

    I am vaguely aware of the case from other forums I’m a member of and their supporters do have a compelling case. Miscarriages of justice can and do happen – I am thinking for example, of the cases of the Maguires, Birmingham 6 and Guilford 4 in the UK. It is of course extremely painful for the parents of the victims, who may very well not care whether the right person pays, just so long as someone is (as had been stated by some of the families involved in the UK cases I mentioned)

    But a fair and just society must have a fair and just means of enforcing its legislation be that North America, South American, Europe, Asia, Africa, wherever. And if there are real and proveable doubts over the process of the first trial and appeals, then a retrial is necessary.

  6. Meghan says:

    My ex lived in West Memphis, very near to where the boys were found, and said that day was terrifying, his mother wouldn’t let him out of the house because of the massive search and no one knew what was going on. It’s so sad, those poor, poor boys.

    I’m just really, really confused as to why Johnny Depp is involved. I mean, I love him, and if he perchance came to West Memphis, I’d get over my debilitating fear of bridges to cross the Mississippi and go see him, but why is he involved? I would think that the WM3 are trying to get lawyers and get a re-trial, not appeal to celebrities. The confusion, it abounds.

  7. suz says:

    I don’t see how you can even compare defending Polanski with defending the WM3. While Polanski was going to plead guilty and there was plenty of testimony and evidence against him, the WM3 case was so egregiously mishandled that a birther with one brain cell can see that those guys are innocent. Besides, this has been a celebrity pet cause since the day they were locked up.

  8. Katalina76 says:

    I had seen the HBO documentary about this a while back. The whole situation is so incredibly shady that a new trial, in my opinion, is absolutely necessary. And if takes celebrities to get the world to listen(and stop what is most likely an erroneous lethal injection), then so be it. These men seem to be nothing more than scapegoats, and as a previous poster said, the family members of that one boy who was killed seem more likely to be guilty of the crime than those boys are.

  9. Solveig says:

    I heard something about this case but I’ve never delved into it enough to have an opinion.
    But if those three men are innocent they are as victims as those poor boys that have been murdered, the only – big – difference is that maybe those men can have another chance to live again.
    I’ll never understand the “”culture”" of death penalty…

  10. Kaiser says:

    Mairead – I stated my opinion: that there should be a new trial. I don’t really don’t have an opinion about their guilt or innocence, there’s evidence to support both.

  11. Amy says:

    because of depps defense of polanski, that may tar any causes he decides to go after, so there are going to be comparisons to the polanski issue whether you like it or not.

  12. Me! says:

    I don’t like your title, and I don’t like your opening paragraph.

    Do the terms “miscarriage of justice”, “FALSELY convicted”, or “railroaded” mean anything to you?

    Anyone who knows anything about this disgusting case, who is in possession of at least 1/2 a functioning brain, can tell that these three are innocent.

  13. monkey says:

    innocent? probably. i have done a lot of research and it seems they might be. in need of a new FAIR trial? NO DOUBT. reading about these boys and their trial makes me fear our system. sad.

  14. CadieBelle says:

    I’m sick of Johnny -
    He;s dirty, fat and a loon – And I intend to boycott Alice in Wonderland – not only is Depp becoming a jerk – Disney is out to get movie theaters -

  15. Trillion says:

    I’m pretty sure there have been 2 trials already for West Memphis 3. It is such a sad, sad case. The stepfather, who looks like a prime suspect to me, had all of his teeth removed before the trial. The children bore bite marks. I saw footage of his (non-official) lie detector test and he is very high on muscle relaxants/pain killers and even admits so on camera. So creepy. Anyhow….I hope something good can come of increased visibility of this case. Henry Rollins has been advocating this for years, btw.

  16. pebbles says:

    yeah, i read the book after seeing the documentary, and i’m pretty convinced that the stepfather is to blame….feel sorry as hell for those enduring the punishment for a crime they did not commit….looks like they were sentenced because they were “different” in a very homogeneous community.

  17. cara says:

    Ok…I officially abhor Mr. Depp for his Polanski affection, BUT he’s right, those kid’s were railroaded. That one kid’s step father clearly commited the murders. AND the guys from HBO even gave over a bloody knife to the prosectures that Byer’s (the step father…now it’s been about a decade but if memory serves me he was Byers) gave to them. Also the guy was a jewler, and the cuts made were with such precision. I don’t know, I’ve ALWAYS felt that those kid’s were railroaded and that the crazy ass Christian song singing lunatic was the absolute murderer. AND how to explain his passing the lie detector test in the second doc….he was on DRUGS people topple that with the fact that he is an absolute lunatic…well that’s an easy one for chrissakes. Personally, I don’t know how that DA sleeps with hinmself at night, and clearly he’s an idiot to simply judge people from the clothing they wear and not from their behavior.

    @trillion…I forgot that. dude, even more incriminating

  18. Cheyenne says:

    I never heard of this case before and had to google it for background info. It sounds like these guys were railroaded. A retrial is definitely in order. Kudos to Johnny Depp and everybody else who is trying to get to the bottom of this mess and right what appears to be an egregious miscarriage of justice.

  19. Praise St. Angie! says:

    Trillion, Henry Rollins is how I first heard about it, too.

    LOVE that man…

  20. Maddie says:

    I have no ideal if they are guilty or innocent, but I do know this because it happens time and time again, if the case is a brutal crime and if it involves kids, the cops and the DA will be gunning for some one even if the evidence is not there.

    The case of the teenage boy who was convicted of his parents murders, why because he did not “act right” when he found their bodies, the son even told the cops who he thinks might have done it, a former business partner of his father who owed his father a large sum of money.

    They had no REAL Evidence of the son having committed the crimes but there he sat in jail for the murders of his parents for years only to be let out early last year a free man.

  21. mollination says:

    I tend to agree with Johnny on this one…. I think it’s ludicrous that anyone would start boycotting a celeb’s work based on their personal stance. We don’t know any of them, and they don’t owe us anything. Especially not some neautral, politically correct crap.

  22. snapdragon says:

    why would he get involved in this case? because the prosecution’s case is very flawed, and any time one person gets an unfair trial in this country it affects us all.

  23. irishserra says:

    The case was handled in such a shoddy manner; it should be looked at again. Two of the victims’ parents are even in support of a re-trial.

    As for JD, he’s just a citizen being vocal about his beliefs.

  24. juiceinla says:

    Damn it. Johnny, stop making it difficult for me to adore you. You haven’t even started working with “StAnge” and already you think you should involve yourself in courtroom and political process.

    Edit- That said, it does sound like the investigation was a colossal failure on the part of the Arkansas law enforcement in this case.

    Edit 2- geezus, this whole thing was a disaster. a horrific, tragic disaster.

    Edit 3- well played Mr. Depp. I not only have paid attention, but now -like many here- think that if even one misstep by the police, courts, prosecution, in this case is true, that all three convictions should be declared mistrials and the accused should be permitted re-trial.

  25. Ana says:

    Off note, Avril’s song for that movie is horrible.
    They should have used Mz Ann Thropic’s song Off with your head. Would’ve been better. I’m pretty sure I butchered the spelling.

  26. mistral says:

    Johnny is 100% correct in his stance and I applaud him using his colossal celebrity to get more attention for these boys.

    WHY is he doing it? Why wouldn’t he be doing it now, now that the kid’s time is ticking on Death Row?…

    This situation is a result of prejudice against emo/goth/metal kids. Seriously, just because someone listens to cheesy crap like Marilyn Manson, et al., doesn’t make them “Devil Worshippers”…

  27. I’m not familiar with this case. Gotta read up. Why is he involved, though?

  28. Ben says:

    @ All Women Stalker, he’s probably involved because his involvement mean the story is now written about of blogs such as this one, and 50% of the people who read it and weren’t familiar with the case as all (you and I included) decided to read up on it because of his support and now the issue has even greater support.
    Seems like reading the comments in this post his involvement is a huge success.

  29. Aussie Mama says:

    He’s right. The boys were framed and the guilty one’s are much higher up the food chain, than ordinary folk. Will it make a difference though? Cops, Lawyers, Politicians are protected species and get away with murder and injustice every day. These children, did not kill those children!

  30. Bete says:

    This is what happens when actors come out and reveal their low intelligence. Depp should retain a publicist to tell him when to shut his mouth.
    If someone killed his children,same age, I doubt he’d feel the same. Then again, if he can’t empathize with the mothers of the murdered 8 year olds, it would clearly make him an idiot, not to mention a cold bastard.
    He is not a lawyer. He isn’t a law enforcement official. He is an actor. Huge difference.
    Maybe someone should let his ego know.

  31. Maleficent says:

    It’s a very interesting case, and usually I am the first to say “guilty”, but this was all shady and I think they were railroaded.

  32. Trillion says:

    Bete: We all enjoy the right to free speech in this country, no? Depp has “low intelligence”? How is that, exactly? Why would he feel any different if his children were murdered? Seems that would only reinforce his stated opinion. No part of your comment makes sense. One doesn’t need to be a part of the judicial or law enforcement community to have an opinion on West Memphis 3. Should all of us commenters shut up then? We can only opine in our areas of expertise? Think about it.

  33. Aussie Mama says:

    John Mark Byers one of the poor little boys step father, should be in jail, along with the other person that helped him do what he did. The boy (I think it was Christopher) was molested by this man on a regular basis and the school councellor already reported this, prior to the murders. This will come out. The 3 children knew and trusted the murderer, this has been established. Those 3 boys have been in jail for something they did not do, for 6 years. Thank god Johnny is using his fame to bring attention to injustices. This heinous wrong must be fixed. The parents of the murdered victims, don’t even believe the 3 jailed boys are guilty! Again media hung another 3 innocent kids. The 3 lads in jail, will get their day in court and the justice they never got, will come! Tragic Story.
    Trillion you are right, Bette; Depp isn’t a lawyer, but any idiot can see how flawed the case evidence is, the man reads, is highly intelligent and I hope his words make a difference.

  34. Trillion says:

    Johnny Depp seems intelligent, humble and good hearted. I’m so glad he’s lending his voice to this cause because that is precisely what is needed here. To get a fair retrial it seems they’d need a different DA and I don’t know if that’s possible.

  35. Codzilla says:

    Trillion: OUTSTANDING response to Bete, who clearly didn’t bother to acquaint himself with even the most basic details of this case before spouting off. Many thanks.

  36. betsy says:

    For another case where the victims never got justice and dirty politics was going on, read Mena, Ark. (big names)

  37. Claudia says:

    Celebs getting involved is a great thing b/c it is bringing awareness to their injustice. If them speaking out allows Arkansas to grant a new trial, then go for it. There has never been a second trial b/c it hasn’t been granted. Evidence showing their innocence has been piling up and nothing has been done. 16+ years has been too damn long. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” MLK JR

  38. Pia says:

    Polanski =/= the Memphis 3

  39. pebbles says:

    Bete: I think that the very reason he is doing this is to find the REAL murderer of those little boys. You should read up on the case….it really is a horrific case of innocent kids being railroaded for a crime they did not commit.

  40. Michele says:

    I watched this documentary back in 94 when it was shown on HBO and the follow up as well. Even back then i knew they were railroaded because of how they presented themselves. at that time my son was just born, I was so furious at the person who did such a horrific crime against these innocent children. i could see why you would just want someone to pay. but,with that said, i would want the right one punished, or i would do it myself if it was my child! for years i had remembered this case, and especially these past couple of years because my oldest son was into goth and now more of an alternative skater, he also listens to alternative, hard rock, and heavy metal music) I let him be cause i know he is a great and kind kid, i buy him some of the clothing and music, he is a big Depp fan. last year when we lived in a different city, we were at a bus stop waiting on my youngest son to get home from school, my oldest was just dropped off 10 minutes before. two police officers stopped and questioned my son for some vehicle break ins in the area, one of which just happened 20 minutes before my son got home form school. the officers were very rude and felt they had the right to question my son in front of me even though i told them to leave him alone. they were going by his appearance which was goth. i was pissed! my son is great kid, anyone who knows him would know that. he is very religious, has respect for adults and defends those who are weak such as elderly and animals (he really loves animals, both my boys do)! this is exactly the same treatment these three teens went through in West Memphis. I knew that way back in 1994 when my son was just born and was not of course goth, but i had the aptitude to see through the police’s biased attitude. I have always suspected the step father, his actions were very strange, he is a religious fanatic, and was to gung ho on convicting these boys instead of trying to get to the truth. I prey that these boys get another trial, the fact that Johnny Depp and other celebrities are taking notice is great, i wish they had sooner though.

  41. Michele says:

    “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” that is the original documentary on this case. just thought i would inform those who never saw it, some of you people here are much younger than me.

  42. Kari says:

    I had heard of this story and began to research it further, I have read many things on this case also seen alot of evidence the provided pictures of and watching it I remember thinking someone must help these kids! Although they are no longer kids! They lost last part of them the day they were convicted. I read people saying the victims are always the first to be forgotten, these boys are victims also and unforntunatly we cannot save the 3 boys that were murdered but we can save the boys that were wrongly convicted. These kids/men did not kill those boys, I beleive that in my heart. I beleive the man that they call Mr. Bojangles comitted this crime and to know he could still be out there and having small children myself makes me sick to my stomach.

    The police made so many mistakes and by reading how they handled evidence just baffles me. I am not trying to lay blame on the police I beleive they were just small back woods police officers that were not properly trained or had any type of experience in handling something of this multitude. But they can step forward and make this right, they can do these kids justice (both) the 3 that have been lost to heaven and the 3 that have been lost to the system.

    One of these boys is about to be murdered by our own justice system! I say murdered becuz he is an innocent victim! I beleive in the death penalty but only if there is no doubt the person sentence has committed the murder and there is no way without doubt this kid did what the police say he did!

    The only reason I think they will not let these kids out is becuz what it will cost the state (embarrassment and money!) Everyone needs to pray for these kids and I don’t care who gets involved as long as a voice gets heard. It’s funny becuz when I wanted to do something no one would have heard my voice but everyone can hear Johnny’s. I thank him from the bottom of my heart and hope with everything his involvement helps!

  43. Icecat says:

    Great comments everyone! This is a classic case of huge flaws in our justice system. A lot of celebs have been on this bandwagon for a long time. The fact that Depp is, (to me) has NOTHING to do with the Polanski statement.

    And, I’m sorry Kaiser, but, your headline, and your first line of the first paragraph, really bothered me just like Mairead. You definitely mislead me with your first/last paragraphs.

  44. Ana says:

    I absolutely cannot get behind the Polanski comment, but the Memphis Three? From what I remember from reading about it a few years ago, there was some very shady prosecutorial conduct in that case, and definitely enough wonkiness to prompt a new trial.

  45. michael says:

    I wonder if Johnny Depp has any real clue about Damien Echols? Does Johnny Depp know the FACTS about Damien Echols medical history and run ins with the law BEFORE he was convicted of murder? Does Johnny Depp realize Damien Echols was put on permanent disabilty, long before he was CONVICTED of murder, because of his mental illness? Johnny Depp should spend some time reading Damien Echols medical records, and police records.

  46. michael says:

    It is funny, how every documentary, or news story about the West Memphis 3 somehow forgets to tell you the truth about Damien Echols. Damien Echols threatened to kill and eat his parents, that is a fact, go read his medical reports. Damien Echols once threatened to kill a police officer, that is a fact, go read the medical and police reports.

    These FACTS do not make Damien Echols a murderer. But Damien Echols is not the poor little kid who was convicted of murder, only because he wore black clothing and listened to Metallica.

  47. michael says:

    I wonder if Johnny Depp will discuss Jesse Misskelley, the kid who has confessed to the crime, more than once. Once with his LAWYER present? Probably not. I wonder If Johnny Depp even knows that Misskelley confessed to the crime.

  48. michael says:

    I do like how Johnny Depp says he instantly related to Damien Echols. Really?

    You relate to someone who threatened to kill and eat his parents?

    You relate to someone who threatened to kill a police officer?

    Real nice.

  49. marie says:

    There are very few people who believe these boys committed this crime. I hope Johnny Depp can help publicize the need for a new trial. At least the courts can give it a chance to be done right this time.

  50. West Memphis Resident says:

    I believe they have the right people.

  51. Val Miller says:

    I think a re-trial will be the right thing to do. I have followed this from the start, and have to say that the ‘system’ seems to be unreasonable and downright shabby.
    I will never forget the boys who were so brutally murdered. The boys that went to prison did not have a proper trial at all. God help anyone who wears a Metallica t-shirt and takes a passing interest in the weirder things in life…is that not what most teenagers do?
    To publish an ‘article’ without explaining the WHOLE story is totally irresponsible and shallow…
    Time and expertese will tell the truth one day. Not attacking Mr Depp.

  52. Cool post. Very rarely do I read anything from top to bottom Thank you for posting this and making it live!

  53. Isaac says:

    Here’s what Johnny isn’t telling us about his interest in this story…

  54. LLane says:

    if you’ve ever read Echol’s phychiatric history, you will see it was much more than “wearing black, being into Wicca and listening to Metallica”. does that make him guilty? NO! but he was definitely not quite right in the head, did some very violent things and made terrible threats and even statements that would lead one to think he was involved. i can’t say if they’re guilty or not, i hope not but something tells me it’s not that simple. i feel like if the truth ever comes out, it’ll be very shocking.

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