Two years ago, Maya Moore made the surprising choice to put her WNBA career on hold to advocate for 39-year-old Jonathan Irons. Moore believed that Irons was wrongfully convicted and has fought to have him released from prison. On Monday, her efforts look to have paid off.
ESPN reports that Irons’ initial conviction was overturned. Irons was sentenced to a 50-year prison sentence for burglary and assault with a weapon of a St. Louis homeowner. The man testified that Irons was the culprit despite there being no evidence that he actually committed the crime. Irons was 16 when the event occurred but was tried as an adult. An all-white jury found him guilty.
Irons’ petition for a writ of habeas corpus was granted by Judge Daniel Green. This resulted in both his convictions being vacated. A stay was placed on the order to allow the state 15 days to order an appellate court to do a review. Should the state not appeal, St. Charles County would then have 30 days to determine if it wants to retry Irons.
In January, The Root reported about Moore sitting out this season of the WNBA to help advocate for Irons. Moore is one of the most celebrated players in the sport. She’s a four-time WNBA champion, a six-time WNBA all-star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Her decision to step back from the sport she has dominated for so long was a surprise to many. It’s hard to argue with her decision when you see the positive results that have come from it. Following the ruling, Moore told Irons on the phone, “You’re coming home! Get your meal order ready.”
It can’t be understated that this man has spent his entire adult life in prison over a case with no evidence. While today’s news is a positive development, this is only the first step. Here’s hoping Irons is given his freedom sooner rather than later.