Dixie Chicks Singer Sued For Defamation

Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines is the target of a defamation lawsuit by the stepfather of one of three 8-year-old boys slain in 1993.

Maines spoke out for three people convicted of the slayings and alleged the stepfather was instead involved in the killings.

Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Steve Branch, who was killed in 1993 with Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Nov. 25. The suit names all three members of the Dixie Chicks, but focuses on Maines.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Hobbs claims he suffered loss of income, injury to his reputation and emotional distress.

Maines attended a Dec. 19 rally in Little Rock, where she claimed Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley — known to sympathizers as the "West Memphis Three" — were innocent and that supposed new evidence pointed to Hobbs. Her comments echoed a Nov. 26, 2007, letter that was still on the Dixie Chicks' Web site on Thursday, in which she claimed that new DNA testing of hair from the crime scene linked Hobbs to the killings and that his behavior after the slayings indicated his guilt.

The lawsuit says the claim is false.

Hobbs told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a Feb. 1 interview that his reputation was in tatters and he wanted to clear his name.

"I want people to know I haven't done nothing wrong," Hobbs said. "I want them to hear it from me."

No lawyer for Maines was listed in court filings and a publicist didn't immediately return a call for comment. Hobbs' attorney, J. Cody Hiland, didn't immediately return a call for comment Thursday.

The lawsuit says Maines' statements were "so extreme in degree as to be beyond the pale of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society."

Assertions similar to those made by Maines were also made by lawyers seeking new trials for the three convicts.

The boys' bodies were found by police a day after they vanished from their quiet, tree-lined neighborhood May 5, 1993. Police arrested the three after a confession by Misskelley in which he described how he watched Baldwin and Echols sexually assault and beat two of the boys as he ran down another trying to escape. A jury gave Misskelley a life-plus-40-year sentence for the killings. A later jury gave Baldwin a life sentence without parole. Echols, then 19, the oldest of the three, received the death penalty.

The Arkansas Supreme Court later upheld the convictions, but a later documentary sparked interest across the Internet, as well as among celebrities, including Maines, who felt the teens were railroaded by police for their interest in heavy metal music and the occult. Supporters say they raised more than $1 million for a legal defense fund for the three, enough to pay for lawyers, new DNA testing and a second federal appeal on behalf of Echols.

A judge has since denied defense motions for a new trial.

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  • by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2009 at 05:23 PM
    I think Bush should sue her too!
  • by Sam Location: Williamston on Dec 18, 2008 at 11:55 AM
    I never ever cared for the Dixie Chicks. They are a disgrace to Country Music and what it stands for. Hey T, I am not surprised if Natalie's husband files for divorce from that fat piece of garbage. She probably has given him such a hard time. I feel sorry for the guy. I do not know what to say is the worst acting, The Dixie Chicks, Rosie O'Donnell, or Britney Spears. What fat Natalie needs to do is shut up and lose weight.
  • by C on Dec 13, 2008 at 08:59 PM
    This is for Ashley and Jonathan: I'm with you, but don't forget, the other two in the group never objected or disagreed with the lead singer's comments about Bush. In fact, they stuck around and made that song about it with her, entitled "I'm Not Ready To Make Nice". That amounts to complicity. Frankly, I find this lawsuit thing pretty amusing; anything bad that happens to ANY big-mouthed liberal celebrity is good to me !
  • by Jeff Location: Wilson on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:22 AM
    Since Maines has been running her mouth they have lost their entire fanbase, alienated all of Country Music Radio, and between the 3 of them they have had 5 divorces. It seems appropriate now that she losses all of her money. It would be well deserved.
  • by T Location: NC on Dec 6, 2008 at 09:56 AM
    I used to like them too. Then she, Natalie, got too big for her britches! She should have just stuck to singing. I think it's funny how you NEVER hear them on the radio anymore. I keep waiting for her marriage to tank. Her husband is doing quite well right now, notice you don't ever see them together. I am sure that is no accident.
  • by Hank Location: NC on Dec 6, 2008 at 08:39 AM
    The Dixie Chicks schould be sent to Gitmo prison. Far away from the USA.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Dec 5, 2008 at 05:49 PM
    Catfish just can't keep her mouth shut. I wonder just how much she has cost the "chicks".
  • by Anonymous on Dec 5, 2008 at 05:24 PM
    She just can't keep her mouth shut can she? What is it about
  • by Ashley Location: Washington on Dec 5, 2008 at 02:34 PM
    I used ot like them, saw them in concert..but until she opened her fat mouth about bush i havent liked them since and have not listen to them since..and never will, and its not even the other two its the head singer..i think if i was the other two i would have kicked her out, shes messing with there jobs
  • by Jonathan Location: Plymouth on Dec 5, 2008 at 02:12 PM
    The sad part is I actually liked some of their music when they came out. Then Natalie opened her trap and blew it for the rest of them!!
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