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Exclusive: Johnny Depp on "West Memphis Three" -- "It's Time to Find the Killers"

(CBS)
NEW YORK (CBS News) Movie star Johnny Depp says he empathizes with Damien Echols, one of the "West Memphis Three." In 1994, Echols and two other teenagers were convicted for the brutal murders of three young boys in West Memphis, Ark.

In an exclusive interview for 48 Hours | Mystery Depp told CBS News, "Oh, I immediately related to Damien, what he went through growing up. He comes from a small town in Arkansas. I come from a relatively small town in Kentucky. I can remember kind of being looked upon as a freak or different, because I didn't dress like everybody else. So I can empathize with being judged by how you look."

Depp went on to describe Echols, who has been on death row since 1994, as "a very sensitive, very intelligent young man."

The episode of 48 Hours | Mystery on the "West Memphis Three" featuring Depp's interview, will air this Saturday, February 27.

In 1993, the bodies of three young boys were found in the Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Ark. The boys had been stripped, hogtied, and beaten. Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin were arrested, tried, and convicted of the crimes. While Echols was sentenced to death, Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences.

One website which supports the release of the "West Memphis Three" describes them as having been convicted "with no physical evidence, murder weapon, motive, or connection to the victims," and that the prosecution presented "black hair and clothing, heavy metal t-shirts, and Stephen King novels as proof that the [victims] were sacrificed in a satanic cult ritual."

Depp says of the three young men, "They were easy targets," and that, "There was a need for swift justice at the time to placate, understandably, an angry and frightened community."

Says Depp to 48 Hours | Mystery, "People need to stand up and say, yeah, it's time to find the killers. Let's find justice."

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