Judge dismisses lawsuit against Dixie Chicks

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against the Dixie Chicks by the stepfather of 1 of the three 8-year-old boys killed in West Memphis 15 years ago.

Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch, claimed that singer Natalie Maines accused him of being involved in the deaths of the three boys.

Hobbs cited a letter Maines posted on the Dixie Chicks' Web site and remarks she made at a rally in Little Rock in 2007.

Three teenagers - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, called the West Memphis Three by supporters - were convicted in the boys' deaths, but the Dixie Chicks and others claim they are innocent.

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller found Tuesday that Hobbs couldn't establish "actual malice" - that Maines knew the statements she made were false or that she made them with "reckless disregard" of the truth.

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