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West Memphis Three first 24 hours of freedom

The West Memphis Three are free but many say that's where the hardest part begins.

Getting a driver's license, reading the paper and hugging your wife are every day actions it's easy to take for granted.  But for Damien Echols, this is the first time he's doing these things as a free man.

"He wanted to have a sample of everything that was around. He would just look at stuff for a long period of time. He'd smell it. And then he'd taste it. It was very surreal," said Echols' attorney Patrick Benca on his first actions out of the courtroom.

Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley and Jason Baldwin are free after spending nearly half their lives in prison for the murders of three eight-year-old boys.  Although the pleaded guilty, all three maintain their innocence.

Misskelley left the hearing to spend time with his father, but Echols and Baldwin had other business to attend to.

"We were at the DMV and both Damien and Jason were poking fun at each other. It's like they picked up where they left off," said Benca.

Still, the release is bittersweet. UALR sociology professor Dr. Terry Richard says these next three months are fragile ones as the men transition back into society.

"This is just as challenging as anything that they have been through in terms of just life in general and the way that we know it," said Dr. Richard.

"I'm still in shock," stated Echols at a press conference, Friday. "Very overwhelmed. You have to take into consideration I've spent most of the last decade in solitary confinement. I'm not used to being around anyone much less this many people."

Seemingly simple acts like using a cell phone are foreign and unfamiliar.

"There are some individuals who have spent 20 years in prison who become so institutionalized - literally some will commit a crime just to go back to that situation because it's what they're used to," said Dr. Richard.

But after watching the men in Memphis during their first day of freedom in 18 years, Echols attorney isn't worried one bit.

"I'm not worried about either one of them and their transition out. I'm really not."

 Benca says it's up to the men if they want to hire a therapist or a counselor to get through the transition.  he suggested Echols start journaling his thoughts to let out stress and document this rare case in history.

 

 

 

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