West Memphis 3: Life After Death
Echols' joy at his release after 18 years in prison was widely covered by the media, but not the fears that followed since he left Arkansas for a new life in New York City.
"It's just like this free-floating anxiety," he said. "I've been injected into this whole new world. And I'm having to learn everything. There's fear constantly. Fear that you're gonna get lost. Fear you're gonna say the wrong thing, just because you're not used to social interaction . . . "
The simplest things, Lorri Davis said, that "most people would take for granted that he had never done before."
Davis went from seeing Echols once a week to 24 hours a day - yes, she married him in 1999 while he was on death row.
"I believed in his innocence, and then I fell in love with him. And those two things together, nothing else mattered," she said.
All that matters now, says Davis, is helping him adjust to a world that had moved on without him. "Filling out a deposit slip, being able to go from one address to another, and reading a map. He's never done any of those things."
"Does he become frustrated when he doesn't know things?" Moriarty asked.
"He wants to be able to move about in the world on his own and not to have to rely on me or anyone else, and that's frustrating to him," she replied. "But it'll come."
And the reality is, 37-year-old Echols may be out of prison, but he's not free. He remains a convicted felon, making it difficult for him to get a job.
Which may explain why he spends so much time among tattoo and graffiti artists.
"These are people who are sort of marginalized by society," he said. "Who aren't part of, you know, the mainstream. These are people who, you know, for a living get up and tattoo people. They're not people who put on business suits and go work every day."
Echols' notoriety is not likely to end soon. Besides his book, there is a new documentary coming out in December, and a Hollywood movie in production. But this month, Damien and his wife moved to a town where they think they'll fit in just fine: Salem, Mass., a town that knows too well the terrible consequences of misjudging people.
"Is there a time when you just want to be known as Damien Echols and not one of the West Memphis 3?" asked Moriarty.
"That's one of my driving forces in life right now," Echols replied. "I want to do things that stand on their own merit, that people appreciate, that mean something to people, that move them in some sort of way. That's what I want to be defined by - not by what was done to me."