WNBA Star Assists Wrongfully Convicted Prisoner Regain his Freedom
Wrongful convictions in the US have been repeated year after year within the legal system, and continue to be a huge concern across the country.
Time and time again citizens have been incarcerated for crimes they simply did not commit, a failure of a criminal justice system that locks up innocent persons due to faulty evidence testing, misidentification, prosecutorial misconduct and indifference or hateful intent.
In Missouri back in 1998, Jonathan Irons, who is now a 40 year old Black man, was convicted of burglary and assault at the young age of 16. He was convicted by an all-white jury, and key information was kept from the defense. Recently, his conviction was overturned along with a 50-year prison sentence.
Irons was incarcerated for approximately 22 years for a crime he did not commit before rightfully being released. How will our legal system restore what was cruelly taken form him? These are many important years stolen away, and none can justify what was wrongfully done to him and so many other Americans within the legal system.
In March of 1998, a man by the name of Stanley Stotler, 38, claimed that his home was broken into, and he had been shot twice. Even despite the fact that Irons maintained his innocence by saying he hadn’t been to the home at all, he was not heard. A flimsy “confession“ was taken under circumstances that hardly assured reliability. The lone detective did not record the “confession” and threw away his notes.
Evidence consisted of a fingerprint found on Stotler’s property, but it was apparent that the fingerprint did not belong to Irons nor Stotler. Nevertheless, said evidence was withheld from Irons’ defense team during trial. Had the defense been provided this exculpatory evidence, the outcome of the trial would likely have gone in Irons’ favor.
This case is yet one more example of how defendants have been denied justice. Many more such examples are chronicled by the Innocence Project. Irons’ appeals failed and he was left to rot in prison.
Finally, W.N.B.A star Maya Moore, a renowned Olympic champion, brought major attention to Irons’ case and directed her passion for justice to address the legal system and injustices such as the way Irons‘ case have been mishandled.
Moore, who was at the peak of her career, and had won multiple W.N.B.A championships, heroically took action on behalf of Irons and shocked the sports world, by interrupting her playing days to focus on supporting Irons’ case.
Moore’s goal was to aid in making a change for Irons and his family, in hopes to receive the justice they deserved from a failed legal system, wrongful forensic testing, prosecutorial misconduct and misidentification.
Moore had first met Irons in 2007 during meeting at the prison, and since then had become fully involved in fighting for Irons‘ freedom. Due to Moore speaking out, Irons‘ case was reopened, and his freedom was finally regained years later.
Irons’ case shows the vital importance of speaking up when there is a known problem within our legal system. When cases like Irons‘ have been closed and innocent citizens have been wrongfully accused of a crime someone else committed, the power of endless support and voices can make an enormous change in someone’s life.
There is always time to make a change and become a voice for those that cannot. For example, In many instances within the Black Lives Matter movement, black lives who have been wrongfully lost and taken advantage of due to our deeply flawed legal system are now receiving a second chance for justice due to the many voices and people coming together in support for injustices that desperately require redress.
Remarkably, despite the grotesque injustice he suffered, Irons has no malice toward the man who misidentified him in court. Irons and Moore are shining examples of the best in humanity.
Moore is just one of the many leading examples in how making a case known to many can lead to rightful freedom, and there will only be more justice to be given from this point onward once injustice is called out.