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Jonathan Irons released from prison

Maya Moore

Jefferson City, Mo., native and WNBA star Maya Moore, right, calls Jonathan Irons as supporters react Monday, March 9, 2020, in Jefferson City after Cole County Judge Dan Green overturned Irons’ convictions in a 1997 burglary and assault case. Moore, a family friend, had supported Irons, sharing his story on a national basis. (Jeff Haldiman/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP)

Just in time for Independence Day, Jonathan Irons is free.

On July 1, Irons, who had been serving a 50-year sentence for a 1997 robbery, was released after St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar declined to retry his case.

Irons was 16 when he was accused of burglarizing an O’Fallon home and shooting an occupant in 1997. He was convicted in 1998 of first-degree assault, armed criminal action and first-degree burglary.

In March, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel R. Green granted Irons’ motion for habeas relief and vacated his convictions. He found that a latent-fingerprint report had been withheld from Irons prior to his trial, which would have provided forensic evidence to support his defense.

The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District upheld the ruling, and on June 30, the Missouri Supreme Court declined to review the decision.

Irons’ case has drawn national attention following the advocacy of WNBA star Maya Moore on his behalf.

Irons’ attorney, Taylor Rickard of the Law Office of Kent Gipson in Kansas City, said her client’s release came more quickly than they’d anticipated. Post-conviction work often is an uphill battle, she noted.

“So the wins we get are meaningful, and I’m really excited for Jonathan,” she said. “I know he’s going to do great.”

The case is State ex rel. Schmitt v. Green, SC98568