WNBA star Maya Moore put her career on hold to help free Jonathan Irons, who was convicted of burglary and assault in 1998 and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Irons was officially released from the Jefferson City Correctional Center on Wednesday (July 1) after Moore’s efforts led to Missouri Judge Daniel Green throwing out Iron’s conviction in March.
Moore, a four-time champion and former Rookie of the Year and MVP, met Irons while doing prison ministry in 2007 and they formed a friendship. Irons’ attorney Kent Gipson spoke about how Moore helped get Irons’ case more attention, telling ESPNW, “Until Maya Moore got involved, [Irons] 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.”
St. Charles County lead prosecutor Tim Lohmar was given the decision to retry the case following a series of failed appeals by Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Lohmar declined, freeing Irons.
In 1998, Irons, then-16, was convicted of breaking into the house of Stanley Stotler, then 38, and shooting him. Stotler picked out Irons in a line-up, along with another Black man, and identified Irons as the shooter in court. But as Kurt Streeter of the New York Times points out, “There was no corroborating witness to the crime, nor were any fingerprints, DNA or blood evidence implicating Irons presented in court.”
The officer who interrogated Irons didn’t record their conversation, and he says he threw away the interview notes, but claimed that Irons confessed to the crime, which he denied. After recently reviewing the case, Judge Green stated fingerprint evidence was not turned over to Irons’ defense team, which his lawyers pointed out “would have supported their contention that someone else had committed the crime.” Irons, 40, served 22 years of the 50-year sentence.
WNBA star Maya Moore sat out the entire season last year and helped overturn the conviction of Jonathan Irons, who was serving a 50-year prison sentence.
He was finally released today.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 2, 2020