Eddie Vedder there as West Memphis Three released

Eddie Vedder of the rock band Pearl Jam, left, embraces Damien Echols, one of three men released Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, at the Craighead County Court House in Jonesboro, Ark., after pleading guilty to crimes they say they did not commit. The three men, dubbed the West Memphis 3, convicted of killing three 8-year-old Cub Scouts and dumping their bodies in an Arkansas ditch in 1993, were freed from nearly two decades in prison Friday, after they agreed to plead guilty to secure the release Echols from death row. Vedder became a key supporter of the men after watching a pair of documentaries about the case.
AP/Danny Johnston
Eddie Vedder embraces Damien Echols, one of three men released Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, at the Craighead County Court House in Jonesboro, Ark.
AP

(CBS/AP) As the so-called West Memphis Three were released from prison Friday, one of their longtime supporters, singer and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, was on hand.

Pictures: Celebrity supporters
Pictures: West Memphis Three set free

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., convicted of murdering three 8-year-olds in West Memphis, Ark., were set free via a legal maneuver called an "Alford Plea." Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley pleaded guilty while maintaining innocence and acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.

Echols' wife, Lorri, sat in the front row of a crowded courtroom, next to Vedder, who became a key supporter of the men after watching a pair of HBO documentaries about the case. Vedder put his arm around her during the proceedings.

MTV reports The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines, another supporter of the men, was also at the courtroom as they were released. Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder and Tom Waits have also been outspoken supporters of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley.