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Nine years ago Wednesday, the West Memphis Three were freed from prison

The three spent nearly two decades in prison before being released on an Alford Plea.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2011, file photo, Damien Echols, left, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., center, and Jason Baldwin sit at a table before a news conference at the Craighead County Court House in Jonesboro, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nine years ago Wednesday, the West Memphis Three walked out of prison as free men.

Damion Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were convicted in 1994 of murdering three 8-year-old boys, Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Chris Byers.

Echols spent 18 years on death row, while Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences.

Over the years, celebrities including Johnny Depp and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, pleaded for the release of Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley, who were dubbed the West Memphis Three. HBO films produced a series of documentaries on the case.

Credit: CHARLES SYKES/INVISION/AP
Johnny Depp, left, and Damien Echols appear at a promotion book event for Echols's biography "Life After Death" at Barnes & Noble bookstore on Friday, Sept. 21 2012 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The three were released from prison in 2011 on what’s called an Alford plea, after new forensic evidence was presented as part of the case.

Wednesday, Echols tweeted out a picture of the Commercial Appeal’s front page from the day they were released, saying “Nine years ago today. Thank You.”

Over the years, Echols has written books about the case and his time in prison. Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch, also wrote a book, and said he still believes Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley are responsible for the murders.