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 one of the first people Jonathan Irons, 40, saw when he was released.
The 31-year-old Moore, a Jefferson City, Missouri, native, starred at UConn before helping lead Minnesota to four WNBA titles. She met Irons through a prison ministry in 2007.
Moore put her career on hold to help Irons, who was just 16 years old when he was convicted for a 1997 home invasion and shooting and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Irons maintained his innocence. In March, a judge threw out his conviction, citing multiple issues with the case. The Missouri attorney general's office unsuccessfully appealed the judge's decision and the lead prosecutor in St. Charles County decided against a retrial.
"I feel like I can live life now," Irons told CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV. "I'm free, I'm blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God's help and influence."
As for Moore, she told The Associated Press her plans to sit out a second season and miss the Tokyo Olympics hadn't changed after Irons' conviction was thrown out.
"My decision to take another year was bigger than this case," she told the AP. "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."
This story was originally published by CBS News on July 2, 2020 at 3:26 a.m. ET.