Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. were released from prison last year (11) after serving 18 years on Death Row for their alleged part in the murder of three Arkansas boy scouts.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star has been a tireless advocate for the group, urging U.S. authorities to search for the real killers so the trio’s names could be cleared, and earlier this year (12) Depp purchased the rights to Echols’ unpublished memoirs to produce a documentary about his life, West of Memphis.
The pair has grown close over the last several months, and the actor reveals they solidified their friendship by getting inked together.
Showing off his new tattoo, Depp tells the Associated Press, “This one Damien designed. It’s one of my all-time favourites, and it means quite a lot to me.”
Echols insists the ink he shares with Depp has a very special meaning: “He’s been with us every single step of the way. Since we’ve gotten out, he’s become like a brother to me. And that’s one of the things we always do just as part of that bond is whenever you get tattoos like that, it’s something you carry with you through the rest of your life and it’s really meaningful.”
Depp isn’t the only celebrity who fought for the West Memphis Three’s freedom – rocker Eddie Vedder and Dixie Chicks star Natalie Maines have been close to the case for years and moviemaker Peter Jackson, who produced Depp’s West of Memphis, has been quietly funding a private investigation into the murders.