'48 Hours Mystery': Johnny Depp says three convicted killers are '1,000% innocent'

It’s rare for Johnny Depp to show up on TV since… well, since 21 Jump Street. But his presence on TV Saturday night achieved his goal: I wouldn’t have watched this week’s 48 Hours Mystery called “A Cry for Innocence” were it not for the presence of Johnny Depp. This CBS “news” show frequently trades in tawdry crimes told in melodramatic ways. But here was an example of star-power used as a force for what seems like good — justice, even.

Depp is convinced that three young men convicted of the murder of three eight year-old boys in 1993 are innocent: “1,000% innocent,” Depp told 48 Hours Mystery in a new interview. The actor says “the urgency is that… Damien [Echols, one of the convicted], is on his last appeal” before being put to death.

“I related to Damien,” said Depp to the CBS cameras. That is, the feeling of “being a freak, or different” as an adolescent.

Depp and other celebrities including Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks have joined with many people who are trying to compel the state of Arkansas to re-open the investigation of the murders. 48 Hours Mystery interviewed Damien Echols, now 16 years on death row. The hour-long show echoes the belief of many that the stepfather of one of the boys should be considered a suspect.

As Owen Gleiberman pointed out earlier this week, there has already been a persuasive, acclaimed film made about this case, the 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. On 48 Hours Mystery, Echols credits the film with keeping the case alive.

The presence of Depp on a prime-time news show, even one buried on a Saturday night opposite the Olympics, may help the accused just as much as that film.

“The clock is ticking,” says Depp.

Did you watch? What did you think of Depp’s interview, and what’s your opinion of the guilt or innocence of the so-called “West Memphis Three”?

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Comments (199 total) Add your comment
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  • Allison

    I mostly watched this because of Johnny… I remember when “Satanism” was the catchword for everything bad that happened. It’s a shame that as forensic technology has improved, the people who matter haven’t taken a closer look at this case.

    • Musica1

      I didn’t watch, but I’m familiar with this case, and can’t believe these guys are still in jail.

    • patrice

      Case needs to be reopenend and investigated. Thank you, Johnny Depp for lending your name and time.

  • Michele

    I watched. Much as I love Johnny Depp, he wasn’t the sole reason I watched. I’ve known about the case for years now and have donated to the fund. I thought the segment was compelling enough on its own without Johnny Depp, but I appreciate him taking part. It’s outrageous to think that they were not granted a new case yet, but I have faith that justice will be served due to the mounting evidence which points to the WM3′s innocence. There is plenty to re-open this case, it’s just a matter of time. Everyone should visit http://wm3.org

    • Issy

      Sounds great to me BTWHDIK

  • Shamrock

    From what I’ve seen and read it’s beyond comprehension that this case is not re-opened. It seems officials are like little children who don’t want to admit they were wrong.

    • theresa

      so true

    • joe

      no one likes admitting wrong, especially in the courts who wrongfully convict someone which is probably why the case hasn’t been reopened. They know they convicted wrongly.

      • Mira

        W4Yf4y Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool thinking all around!

    • Linda

      It’s a travesty and a massive conflict of interest that Judge Burnett was allowed to preside over the later motions for a new trial. How wrong is that?? Of *course* he’s not going to allow a new trial! Nobody affiliated with the original case wants it re-opened. They’ll all look like hysterical fools!

    • Noleen

      They said on the show there is more than enough evidence but the state said they will not reopen the case. I can not believe they are going to let this man die for a crime that new technology is proving he did not do. I hope & pray all these new shows about it force someone on the courts behalf to get the case reopened and save his life now.

  • Rusty Shackelford

    It’s things like this that give the South it’s stereotypes.

    • nessa

      aint that the truth!

    • Doremifah Solatido

      Yup; Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi – the Axis of Backwardsness for the USA….

  • tommyc

    48 Hours is a good show. Nice cheap shot, Ken.

    • m

      Ken is known for his cheap shots.

    • caryn

      Because he said it’s melodramatic? It is. It’s the big reason I don’t like watching the show.

    • Nihilistic

      Ken is INFAMOUS for going overboard with his putdowns. If something doesn’t strike Ken’s fancy, then it’s wrong for EVERYBODY in Ken’s world.

  • donnywahls

    it’s amazing that in the three years since the new (case-changing) DNA evidence has been introduced that these men have been continuously denied a re-trial (by the same judge!).
    i remember seeing “Paradise Lost” when it came out, at the age of sixteen, and i was completely fascinated by the case, and every couple of years something happens that layers on the absurdity of the original conviction.

  • Joe

    There is also a really good book called “Devil’s Knot” by Mara Leveritt about the whole murder case. It is truly astounding how ineptly the authorities handled the whole incident. I was honestly shocked at how everything was done and how, for some reason, the police focused only on the kids that would become known as the “West Memphis Three” and ignored several other leads. Just bizarre.

  • ej

    I could normally care less about “Hollywood” but thank you Johnny Depp..these guys are obviously victims of a corrupt system…kudos to you

    • Brett

      WTF dude?!?

      Umm… Mods?

    • Ashleigh

      I agree Brett….how is this post still up??? Disgusting

    • wakeforce

      Why is this still here. I bet if the offensive word started with f and ended with g, the post would not have made it past the censors.

    • l.d.

      Uh, kill whitey dude.

    • juggler

      BOY, WHERE IS “NSHI “WHEN YOU NEED HER/HIM?????

    • sunny

      agree,why is that post still up?? didn’t there used to be a “report” button?

    • Steph

      Ignorance is so hot!

    • Nihilistic

      There’s no mods here. None that act with any kind of immediacy anyway. So trash like this stays up long past due.

    • Nihilistic

      I didn’t even check the timestamps when I posted but it just proved my comment. This sister-molesting, guttertrash redneck posted at 7:46 Sunday morning. It’s now 2:27 Monday morning. Like I said, no mods.

    • Kapitan

      it means ignorant person
      so get over it a**hole

    • Conan

      So, ignorant people should be killed? When are they setting an execution date for Kapitan and Burkett’s ignorance?

    • Nichaela

      So i take it you are not an Obama supporter. Its people like you who keep places like America in the dark ages, and i will pray it is the meek, and not the ignorant like you, who inherit the Earth, loser.

    • Nihilistic

      Amazing. This is STILL here.

  • khjll

    I can’t believe they would kill someone who innocent…or not even go over evidence…and the fact that the killer might still be loose…

  • khjll

    Why wouldn’t AMERICA and the JUDICIAL system not want to get it right? Isn’t that what’s suppose to happen? why wouldn’t they want to look at everything?

    • May S

      Because they – the authorities, the judges and lawyers – would have to admit that they made a mistake, that they were wrong, and that they let a guilty man free for 16 years. It’s easier for them to just deny everything and obstinately ignore other possibilities. It seems incomprehensible, but it happens often enough.

      • ObiHave

        The top three (the other WM3 if you will) the sherrif, judge and DA have all moved on to bigger and better things and are up for election or promotion and admitting a mistake in such a high profile case would jeopardize all their “good” work.
        I find it amazing that these guys refuse to talk to the media…if they were under suspicion of a crime and kept guiet, they’d immediately go to the top of the suspect list.
        The whole thing is a travesty…please don’t think everyone in Arkansas is as close-minded and bigotted as this.
        I can’t believe someone’s career is more important than someone’s life.
        What would be the harm of commuting Damien’s sentence to life to be sure justice is done? Death is sorta final.
        FREE THE WM3!

    • Musica1

      The police are so desperate to not look inept that they latch onto the first possible solution in many cases. And once it’s gone to court, the reputations of the cops, judge and lawyers are all at stake. Of course, they don’t want to reopen the case. They don’t care so much about guilt or innocence, I think, because they see so many obviously guilty people go free on technicalities or corrupt juries. So when they get a conviction, they really want it to stick.

  • bunker

    DAMN! I meant to watch this!

    • Junior

      Bunker, on the CBS News website, they show all previous episodes of 48 Hours Mystery. It may take a day or two for it to show up on their website, but you’ll get to watch it.

    • DAWN

      You can still watch it if you go to HULU.com. This site carries alot of tv shows that are on air now or have been in the past. You will have to wait until next week to watch it, because they have to wait a week before they can post it online.

    • m

      You can still watch it. Check it out on 48 Hours Mystery.com

  • Sue1

    I hope this publicity will help re-open this case. I saw the 1996 documentary and like many others was astounded by the way this was handled.

  • cheryl

    Why isn’t anyone looking into the step dad. He’s a whack job if I have ever seen one. He has a knife the same kind a the one used in the killing. he had all his teeth removed and had dentures put in. Remember the boys had bite marks.

    • Lala

      Ugh, that’s just creepy. DNA needs to be taken. Even if his teeth were removed, hopefully there’s dental records somewhere. These three should not have been convicted “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Reasonable doubts were and still continue to be present, considering the evidence.

    • Linda

      NO! The boys did NOT have bite marks from a human being! It has been conclusively proven that they were bitten and their skin was torn away by *ANIMALS*! Just as NO DNA EVIDENCE can be matched to Damien, Jason and Jessie, NONE can be matched to Byers. The only person whose DNA can be linked directly to the crime scene is Terry Hobbs’ DNA. Please get your facts straight! Wasting time on Byers takes focus away from Hobbs, who has some major explaining to do.

      • Angel2480

        Also, remember that Byers now supports the boys and feels that there is a need for a new trial. Terry Hobbs is a proven liar and the police dropped the ball from day one because they focused on these three and had on blinders to anything else.

  • b

    I can’t believe they have never been allowed to have a re-trail. This is shocking injustice. The real killers have been out there all this time – don’t the authorities care about that at all??

  • busybee527

    Has the boy who supposedly witnessed the murders recanted? What does he say now? Has he been interviewed? When and if there is a new trial, shouldn’t be a different judge?

    • Linda

      Jessie Misskelly (the one who functions at a 5 year-old level) recanted immediately after his trial. He refused to testify against Damien and Jason, and maintains that none of them were there. The show sadly didn’t go into too much detail, but Jessie was grilled by West Memphis police (with NO lawyer or family present) for hours upon hours, and only 40-45 minutes of those hours was recorded: the “confession” part, which is riddled with errors and inconsistencies. As the show pointed out, though, this didn’t stop jurors from taking his “confession” into consideration when they came to their verdict. This case is a miscarriage of justice from beginning to end. (And by the way, MAJOR THANKS to Stidman, Jessie’s lawyer, for still working tirelessly for Jessie all these years later. This man gives lawyers a good name :)

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