In what can only be called a judicial “my bad,” some 57 years after Malcolm X was gunned down, two men convicted as accomplices will have their sentences vacated.
According to the New York Times, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is looking to clear Muhammad Aziz, previously known as Norman Butler, and his co-defendant, Khalil Islam.
Both men maintained their innocence and have always claimed that they had nothing to do with Malcolm X’s killing at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965. In fact, Thomas Hagan, the assassin who confessed to Malcolm X’s murder, has also said that the two men had nothing do to with the shooting.
Aziz is now 83 and spent 22 years in prison. He was paroled in 1985, ABC 7 New York reports. Islam died in 2009.
Two years ago, Vance, along with the Innocence Project and attorney David Shanies, began looking into the case that led to Aziz and Islam’s conviction and found that “prosecutors, the FBI, and the NYPD withheld key evidence that would likely have led to the men’s acquittal,” ABC 7 reports.
From the Times:
The review, which was undertaken as an explosive documentary about the assassination and a new biography renewed interest in the case, did not identify who prosecutors now believe really killed Malcolm X, and those who were previously implicated but never arrested are dead.
Nor did it uncover a police or government conspiracy to murder him. It also left unanswered questions about how and why the police and the federal government failed to prevent the assassination.
Also from the Times:
Altogether, the re-investigation found that had the new evidence been presented to a jury, it may well have led to acquittals. And Mr. Aziz, 83, who was released in 1985, and Mr. Islam, who was released in 1987 and died in 2009, would not have been compelled to spend decades fighting to clear their names.
“This wasn’t a mere oversight,” said Deborah Francois, a lawyer for the men. “This was a product of extreme and gross official misconduct.”