At the end of the Aug. 19 hearing that allowed the West Memphis Three to walk out of the courtroom as free men, families of the victims and defendants, supporters and others started to file out of the packed courtroom. The designated pool camera continued to roll on Circuit Judge David Laser as he sat behind the bench, filing away papers and signing documents.
With approximately 20 seconds left on the tape, Judge Laser, addressing his daughter Laura, who was in court, seems to say: "Laura, he's serious. Soury says he thinks he can get Mom a short one-on-one with Johnny in Santa Fe."
Soury is presumably Lonnie Soury, a media spokesman for the group formed to advocate freedom for the West Memphis Three. Johnny is presumably Johnny Depp, a long time advocate for the West Memphis Three who was set to begin filming "The Lone Ranger" in Santa Fe this October until production was delayed. Judge Laser's wife, Ann Laser, lives in Santa Fe part-time, according to her website.
Soury says he met with the judge and other officials the afternoon before the hearing Aug. 19, but that no offer for an introduction was made or accepted.
"[Arkansas Supreme Court Communications Counsel] Stephanie Harris and I met with court officers and Judge Laser to discuss security and orderliness in the courtroom, both inside and outside the courthouse, as we expected a large contingent of media and interested parties. Nothing improper was discussed at any point," Soury said in an e-mail.
When asked if there was any talk about arranging a meeting between the judge or his wife and the famous actor, Soury said, "No."
Harris says she would have been "very concerned" if a conversation of that nature had occurred, but says that it did not.
"I remember that discussion and the discussion was not, 'Hey, I'll hook you up.' We were talking about security and where everything was going to be. I asked if the celebrities were going to be there and Lonnie mentioned Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines. I asked if Johnny Depp was going to be there. That led to a discussion about how he's shooting a movie. I remember the judge saying his wife was in Santa Fe. My recollection is that it was kind of jokey — 'Oh, my wife would love to meet him,' or something like that. But there was never any serious discussion about making any arrangements," Harris said.
Judge Laser returned a call about the incident Monday afternoon. His only on-the-record comment: "No comment."