Damien Echols returns to Memphis to speak at conference - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Damien Echols returns to Memphis to speak at conference

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three was back in the Mid-South Monday night amid a controversy with FedEx. But, that's not all. He was paid a visit from an old friend.

Damien Echols said last year that he wanted to stay away from the Memphis area, that it was just too traumatic for him to be here. But he was here Monday at a conference where he talked to a crowd…and had a surprise visit.

"The only thing I had in there was a TV and I probably didn't turn it off for a decade," Echols said, speaking at an entrepreneurship conference downtown about how technology has changed in the 18 years he was behind bars, more than half of it on death row.

"One thing I was fiercely fixated was on the news. I watched news coverage non-stop," he said.

He watched wrestling too.

Echols said it was tough getting out in 2011, venturing into a new world.

A fight on the subway didn't faze him. He'd seen that, but a grocery store was another matter.

"If you go into a grocery store and see the little box on the side of the conveyor belt you run your card through to pay for groceries. I'd never seen anything like that," he explained.

Echols, now an author, was told to use twitter to promote his books.

"I heard people make reference to it but I didn't know what that was," Echols said.

As Echols spoke, someone he had not seen since his release was listening in the audience.

Jessie Misskelley convicted along with Echols and Jason Baldwin, hugged Echols outside the room.

Misskelley had one of Echols books and got it signed. The message: a symbol Misskelley did not understand.

"I talked with him, took pictures with him and everything. It was great," Misskelley said.

Misskelley said he too does not understand a lot in this new world.

"I ain't used to nothing yet. I'm still trying to learn," he said.

Jessie Misskelley has stayed away from the public eye since his release. He is not interested in talking in public or writing a book. He still lives in West Memphis.

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