Monday September 10, 2012

TORONTO -- The man Johnny Depp helped release from Arkansas’ death row has become like a brother to him, right down to getting matching tattoos.

"We have some," Depp said Saturday as he touched a tattoo on the right side of his chest.

"This one Damien designed. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and it means quite a lot to me," Depp told The Associated Press before the premiere of the documentary, "West of Memphis," about Damien Echols and his two co-defendants.

Echols said whenever he and Depp get together, they often end up in a tattoo parlor. Depp said it’s about "celebrating the moment."

Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin spent 18 years in prison for the 1993 murders of three 8-year old boys in West Memphis. All three were released after agreeing to an Alford plea that allowed them to maintain their innocence while pleading guilty.

The three were the subjects of the "Paradise Lost" documentaries, which captured Depp’s interest in the case.

Depp, along with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, musician Henry Rollins, and filmmaker Peter Jackson helped pay the legal fees to free the three men.

Echols said Depp’s support wasn’t limited to his time in prison.

"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."