Jonathan Irons was released from prison on Wednesday thanks to years of effort by WNBA star Maya Moore.
What We Know:
- Moore greeted Irons when he walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center on Wednesday. In an emotional Instagram video, a group of people close to Irons clapped and cheered for him after his release. Moore fell to her knees at one point as everyone embraced Irons. “I feel like I can live life now. I’m free, I’m blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence,” Irons said in the video.
- Jonathan Irons, 40, served 22 years of his 50-year sentence at Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri. Irons was convicted of burglary and assaulting a St. Louis man in 1998. Irons’ lawyers say there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. The victim testified against Irons and an all-white jury found him guilty of the charges.
- Moore, a Jefferson City native, met Irons in 2007 while doing prison ministry. Missouri Judge Daniel Green threw out Irons’ conviction in March, calling the prosecution’s case “very weak and circumstantial at best”. Prosecutor Tim Lohmar declined to retry the case after a number of failed appeals by the state’s attorney general.
- Moore decided to sit out the 2019 WNBA season to help Irons overturn the conviction. She also announced that she would withdraw from the 2020 season and Olympics prior to both being delayed due to the pandemic. Moore shocked the world by stepping away from her superstar career to seek justice. Moore was a four-time champion and former Rookie of the Year and league MVP with the Minnesota Lynx.
- One of Irons’ attorneys said “Until Maya Moore got involved, [we] just really didn’t have the resources to either hire counsel or hire investigators . . . It’s big to sacrifice a year of your career in your prime to do that.”
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said “Maya Moore got to celebrate another championship yesterday and none of us who have been blessed to have Maya in our lives are surprised.” She added “The criminal justice system in America is so far from fair and equal and it angers me that Maya has had to sacrifice so much to overcome this racially disparate system.”