WNBA star Maya Moore has won four titles and two gold medals during her eight-year career. But this season Moore, still under contract, has continued her two-year hiatus from the Minnesota Lynx in order to fight for the release of Jonathan Irons, a man many believe was wrongfully sentenced to 50 years in prison, as Blavity previously reported.  

As of this week, Moore can consider herself not only a champion on the court but also a winner as an advocate for criminal justice reform. 

On March 9, Cole County Judge Dan Green ordered that Irons’ convictions be overturned for a 1997 burglary and nonfatal shooting that saw him convicted by an all-white jury, reports News Tribune

Irons, 40, was 16 years old when he was accused of breaking into a St. Louis home and shooting the homeowner in the head during a burglary. The victim testified that Irons was the culprit, but there were no witnesses, fingerprints, footprints, DNA nor blood evidence to connect Irons to the crime. Prosecutors alleged Irons confessed to police that he broke into the victim’s home, but Irons and his lawyers have always denied that claim. Further, the officer who interrogated Irons did so alone and did not record the conversation, according to The New York Times. Irons was also tried as an adult, though he was a minor. 

Judge Green’s order was followed by joyful cheers from family and supporters of Irons, who is 23 years into his 50-year sentence. Shortly after the hearing, Moore called Irons in prison to tell him the results of his hearing. When Irons answered, he was met with a chorus of positive praise that let him know the ruling was in his favor. At one point Irons, overwhelmed with emotion, broke into song. 

Irons’ saga is not over, however. Judge Green’s order states Irons could be discharged from custody only if the St. Charles County prosecutor's office doesn’t elect to retry him within 30 days. Green’s order of release is also pending a review by the Missouri Attorney General's Office, who has argued to keep Irons in prison. 

Moore acknowledged that there is still more work to be done, saying, "It doesn't feel real. It's sad that it has taken this long for us to get to this point and he's still not home yet. We're happy, though, that the truth is out there."

"We're still fighting because he is still behind bars, but we hope that the momentum and the commitment we've had for truth in this case, from Jonathan, to our lawyers, to our family, we hope inspires others and inspires change along with accountability and prosecutorial reform," Moore said further.

For his part, Irons is grateful for the opportunity to start a new life and for Moore’s determined advocacy. 

“She 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,” reported The New York Times.