With Maya Moore’s help, wrongly convicted man freed from prison

A Missouri man was freed from prison Wednesday after a county prosecutor declined to retry his case, punctuating years of work by WNBA star Maya Moore and other supporters who argued he was falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges.

Moore was on hand when Jonathan Irons, 40, walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center. She clapped as Irons approached a group of people waiting for his release. She then dropped to her knees at one point before joining a group hug around Irons.

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He had been serving a 50-year prison sentence stemming from the non-fatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area when Irons was 16. But a judge threw out his convictions in March, citing a series of problems with the case, including a fingerprint report that had not been turned over to Irons’ defense team, according to The New York Times.

The Missouri attorney general's office unsuccessfully appealed the judge's decision, and the lead prosecutor in St. Charles County decided against a retrial.

Moore and Irons became friends after meeting through prison ministry, according to the Times. The 31-year-old Moore, a Jefferson City, Mo., native who graduated from Collins Hills High School in Suwanee and starred at UConn before helping lead Minnesota to four WNBA titles, put her career on hold last season to help Irons.

“In that moment, I really felt like I could rest,” Moore said in an interview with Good Morning America about her reaction to Iron’s release after putting her basketball career on hold. “I’ve been standing, and we’ve been standing, for so long. It was an upplanned moment where I just felt relief. I was kind of a worshipful moment, just dropping to my knees and just being so thankful that we made it.

“When I stepped away two springs ago, I just really wanted to shift by priorities to be more available and present to show up for things that I felt where mattering more than being a professional athlete. So, this is, obviously, one of the biggest and direct results of that.”

Moore said in January she planned to sit out a second season and miss the Tokyo Olympics. After Irons’ convictions were thrown out in March, she told the AP her plans hadn't changed.

“My decision to take another year was bigger than this case,” she said at the time. “But obviously this case was in the forefront of my mind. I’m looking forward when this is done to finally getting some rest and time with my family.”

Following Irons’ release Wednesday, Moore said she will indeed rest

“These last couple years, I’ve really been trying to take it one season at a time,” Moore said on GMA. “We always want to know what is next. As a basketball player, you are so scheduled. For the first time in my adult life, I’m really just trying to live in the moment. And honesty, my rest is going to start now. I haven’t been able to have the fullness of the rest that I wanted. I’m like ‘OK guys, now it’s time to take a break.’ Looking forward to some rest and seeing what the future holds this time next spring.”