Celebrities cheer as West Memphis 3 walk free

Aug 19, 2011 at 3:58 p.m. ET

Inside the courtroom where the West Memphis 3 learned of their freedom Friday morning sat a pair of famous supporters: Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines.

Eddie Vedder

After 18 years in prison the West Memphis 3 have been set free. In the courtroom, witnessing the news firsthand, sat Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines.

The Pearl Jam rocker and the Dixie Chicks singer celebrated in court Friday as freedom for the three incarcerated men accused of killing three 8-year-old boy scouts in 1993 was granted.

Nearly 20 years ago Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin - known by supporters of their innocence as the West Memphis 3 - were sentenced to life in an Arkansas prison in 1994. Echols was additionally sentenced to death and has been on death row ever since his sentence began.

The 1996 HBO documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills about the case piqued the interest of Eddie Vedder along with a number of celebrities. Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines and other famous friends helped fund a legal team that worked to win the West Memphis 3 a new trial.

"Why are they innocent?" Eddie Vedder said in an interview with The Associated Press last year. "Because there's nothing that says they're guilty."

Friday morning Eddie sat in the front row of the crowded courtroom, with his arm around Echols' wife.

Natalie Maines celebrated the news by tweeting, "the gag order has been lifted, so now I can tell you, I'm sitting in a holding room at the courthouse about to see three men walk free! Beautiful things went down in Arkansas today. Beautiful beautiful things ... The WM3 will now and forever be the WMFree!"

Image via WENN