JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney said Thursday he doesn’t know if Johnathon Irons is guilty or innocent. He explained his office decided ethically, they couldn’t do it and pointed to three main reasons why.
Jonathan Irons, 40, walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center earlier this week after serving more than 20 years in prison.
A judge threw out his conviction stemming from a non-fatal shooting in St. Charles when Irons was 16. It comes after years of work by WNBA star Maya Moore and other supporters who argued he was falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges.
The Missouri attorney general’s office unsuccessfully appealed the judge’s decision, and the lead prosecutor in St. Charles County decided against a retrial.
Lohmar said his office came to the conclusion there were certain errors in the initial trial and if he was retried, it would be nearly impossible to do so and uphold their own ethical standards.
One area of concern was testimony regarding fingerprints. Lohmar said a report that said Iron’s fingerprints were not at the crime scene was never disclosed to the defense. He said that severely impacted the defenses’ right to a fair trial and the right to put forth that someone else could have committed the crime.
Lohmar said an even bigger concern involved the interview done at the time by a detective who is now deceased. Lohmar said the interview between the detective and Irons was done behind closed doors, was not recorded or written, and there was no proof he was read his miranda rights.
The other error they were concerned about was that the entire trial was based on circumstantial evidence. Lohmar explained there were several witnesses who placed him near the scene at the crime, but not at the actual scene.
One witness who allegedly told officers that Irons admitted to burglarizing the home is still alive, but refused to cooperate with investigators so his story was recanted.
“Put all that together, we were faced with a relatively easy decision, that we have a high ethical standard to not to try someone with a crime unless we know we can prove that person’s guilt,” said Lohmar.
Maya Moore was on hand yesterday when Irons was released. They became friends after meeting through prison ministry, according to the New York Times. The 31-year-old Moore, a Jefferson City, Missouri, native who starred at UConn before helping lead Minnesota to four WNBA titles, put her career on hold last season to help Irons.
This story contains information from the Associated Press