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Cory Maye will soon not have bars over his window. Image: amandabhslater/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Cory Maye, who has was convicted of killing a police officer and has served 10 years in prison, will soon be released. A new plea agreement was reached Friday. Maye’s controversial case has been championed by human rights groups as a miscarriage of justice.

Reduced to manslaughter

Friday morning, Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell signed a plea agreement on which Maye pled guilty to manslaughter for the 2001 death of Ron Jones Jr., a Mississippi police officer. Under the agreement, Maye’s charge will be reduced to manslaughter with a sentence of 10 years. However, since that time has already been served, Maye is expected to be released within days.

Police raid the wrong apartment

On the night of December 26, 2001, Ron Jones Jr. and several officers were sent to Maye’s duplex to conduct a drug raid. They had received a tip that a substantial quantity of marijuana was being stored in the apartment of Jamie Smith, with the intention of distribution. Reportedly, the officers went to the wrong door of the duplex building. Four of the five officers involved later testified that they knocked first, but Maye has claimed he heard no knock.

Maye has said he was sleeping in a chair in front of the TV after putting his 18-month-old daughter to sleep. He testified that he was awakened by the sound of people breaking into his home. He retrieved a .380-caliber handgun he kept in a box for protection and rushed to his daughter’s room. When officer Jones burst into the room, Maye fired off three shots. Jones was wearing a bullet-proof vest. One of the rounds struck him beneath the vest and proved to be fatal.

Charged with capital murder

Maye testifies that, upon realizing he had shot a police officer, he immediately dropped the gun, raised his hands and surrendered.

It turns out that Jones was also the son of Police Chief Ron Jones Sr. Neither Maye nor his live-in girlfriend Chenteal Longino had a criminal record. Maye was arrested and charged with capital murder and sentenced to death row.

After many delays, Maye was tried in 2004. Ronda Cooper was hired for his defense, who reportedly made many tactical errors during trial. Also, there have been questions as to the competency of Steven Hayne, the Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy on Jones and testified in the case. Hayne has since resigned from the National Association of Medical Examiners and has been barred from conducting autopsies for Mississippi prosecutors.

Bloggers bring attention to the case

Former Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko, as well as several other bloggers, wrote about Maye and brought attention to his case. In 2007, Maye was retried, with attorneys from the Washington DC firm Covington & Burling defending him pro bono. In that hearing, Judge Michael Eubanks threw out the death penalty and commuted Maye’s sentence to life in prison.

A new trial granted

In November 2009, Maye was granted a new trial by the Mississippi State Court of Appeals. In 2010, the Mississippi State Supreme Court upheld the grant on the grounds that Maye should have been allowed to use the defense that he was protecting his daughter.

Sources

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/01/cory-maye-to-be-released-_n_888454.html?icid=maing-grid7|maing9|dl9|sec1_lnk3|74820
Forbes: http://blogs.forbes.com/erikkain/2011/07/01/the-freedom-of-cory-maye/
Cato Institute: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/cory-maye-will-soon-be-free/

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