A judge overturned a man's 50-year conviction after WBNA's Maya Moore stepped away from the court to focus on his case
- Maya Moore announced in January that she would be missing a second WNBA season to focus on criminal justice reform.
- Moore focused much of her time on 40-year-old Jonathan Irons, who in 1998 was handed a 50-year prison sentence on burglary and assault convictions connected to a crime said he didn't do.
- Missouri's Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green overturned Irons' case on Tuesday citing evidence that he said was withheld during Irons' trial.
- Irons could walk free from jail within the next 30 days, if prosecutors decide not to re-try him.
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A Missouri judge overturned a man's 50-year-conviction after WNBA star Maya Moore advocated for him and even stepped away from the basketball to push for criminal justice reform.
Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green overturned the 1998 burglary and assault convictions of Jonathan Irons, on Tuesday. Cole has been serving a 50-year prison sentence for a crime he says he didn't do, according to NBC News.
Green ruled that prosecutors had suppressed evidence in the case at the time of the trial, and Irons' defense lawyers provided enough proof to show their client had been wrongfully convicted, according to the decision first reported by the Jefferson City News-Tribune.
Moore, a five-time all-star with the Minnesota Lynx, announced last year that she was taking a sabbatical to help Irons. She said in January that she would be putting her WNBA on hold for another season to support Irons.
"'My decision to take another year was bigger than this case," she told The Associated Press. "But obviously this case was in the forefront of my mind. I'm looking forward to when this is done to finally getting some rest and time with my family."
Moore first met Irons in prison more than a decade ago
Moore met Irons in 2007, when she was visiting the Jefferson City Correctional Facility. Her godparents introduced them after meeting Irons through their volunteer work in a ministry outreach program in the early 2000s.
"It's a surreal feeling, it hasn't sunk in yet," Moore told AP of Green's conviction being overturned. "It will when he walks out those doors. It's like we got to the Final Four, but still have some work left to do. I have mixed emotions as I'm elated it happened but the decision could have been made so much faster."
Irons, now 40, was convicted in a non-fatal shooting of a homeowner in St. Louis when he was 16. He was tried as an adult and was found guilty by an all-white jury, according to The New York Times.
Green's decision to overturn Irons' conviction relied on fingerprint evidence that was found at the scene that did not belong to Irons or the victim of the crime. Prosecutors did not release the evidence at the time of Irons' trial.
"It feels like I can just breathe, like the weight of the world is off of me, like I have the chance to live," he told The Times. "[Moore] saved my life. I would not have this chance if not for her and her wonderful family. She saved my life and I cannot say it better than that."
Irons could be released within 30 days, unless the St. Charles County prosecutor's office seeks another trial or the Missouri attorney general's office appeals, according to the Associated Press.
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