Dixie Chicks front woman Natalie Maines has put the band in hot water again. The band is being sued for defamation by a man whose 8-year-old stepson was killed in 1993 because Maines had implicated that he had something to do with his son’s murder.
Maines is no stranger to the trouble her statements bring her, having single-handedly brought about a nationwide ban of the Dixie Chicks after her statements about President Bush in the U.K. In this situation, Maines appeared at a rally last December in Little Rock, Arkansas benefiting the three men convicted of the murder of 8-year-old Steve Branch and two other boys.
The three men, known as the “West Memphis Three” were convicted of killing the boys in 1994 as teenagers. Maines told the crowd gathered in Little Rock that there was new DNA evidence gathered from the crime scene which implicated Steve’s stepfather, Terry Hobbs, and that his behavior following the boys’ deaths was unusual. Maines made similar statements in a letter she posted on the Dixie Chicks website in November of last year.
According to E! Online, Hobbs is suing the band for defamation, libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress by outrageous conduct and false-light invasion of privacy. He claims that the Chicks caused him embarrassment, humiliation, “severe” psychological and emotional trauma, loss of income and injury to his reputation.
In May 1993, three 8-year-old boys were found brutally murdered in a drainage ditch in West Memphis, Arkansas. According to Tru TV, “by the next day, police were questioning their first suspect, Damien Echols.” A few weeks later, Jessie Misskelley, an acquaintance of Echols, confessed to the murders, implicating Echols and another friend, Jason Baldwin. The three teenagers were soon arrested and charged with the murders of the three boys.
All three of the teenagers were found guilty. 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. 16-year-old Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life imprisonment, as well as an extra forty years. 18-year-old Damien Echols was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Though not unusual, the suspects began to proclaim their innocence soon after their imprisonment and haven’t stopped yet, desperately attempting to gain an appeal. The unusual aspect of this case is that the men are not alone in proclaiming their innocence. Thousands of people believe they were wrongly convicted and not just celebrities like Natalie Maines. New evidence has been brought to light due to how badly the crime scene was handled and misconceptions made by police.
In a 200 page court document filed in October 2007, the document lists DNA evidence of a hair belonging to Terry Hobbs being found in the ligature of one of the victims. Pam Hobbs, (Terry’s ex-wife and mother of victim Steve Branch) found a knife in Terry Hobbs’ drawer that belonged to her son, which he carried with him at all times. Because it was not found among Steve’s personal effects, Pam had assumed that her son’s murderer had taken it.
Updated information on the case can be found here.
Natalie Finn, Natalie Maines, Fellow Dixie Chicks Courted for Libel, E! Online
Natalie Maines, Letter from Natalie Maines: WM3 Call to Action, DixieChicks.com
Fiona Steel, The West Memphis Three, Trutv.com
West Memphis 3 Official Website