NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Manhattan District Attorney on Thursday asked a court to vacate the trials of two of the three men convicted of the 1965 murder of civil rights activist Malcolm X.
Both men served more than two decades in prison for a crime they did not commit. After a 22-month investigation, they will be acquitted, reported Alice Gainer of CBS2.
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It was February 21, 1965. Malcolm X, 39, was killed in a hail of bullets at the Audubon Ballroom. Talmadge Hayer was arrested at the scene. Days later, Muhammad Aziz was arrested, followed by Kahlil Islam. Both insisted they were innocent and offered alibis.
At a trial, Hayer admitted he was involved, but said the other two men did not. All three were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1966.
Aziz, after serving 20 years, was released in 1985. Islam was released in 1987 and confessed his innocence before he died in 2009.
“I am a just, innocent individual, a real person,” Islam said at the time.
Hayer was released on probation in 2010.
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“If I wanted to do it, I couldn’t do it, so that means they knew what they were doing when they put me in jail,” said Aziz, now 83.
So why are they finally acquitted now? The Manhattan DA’s office began a preliminary review after the heels of the 2020 Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?”
“You can see very clearly that there was no real desire to solve this murder … Even the tribune with the bullet holes in it was just thrown into the basement where it remained for another 20 years or more,” said historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad. , whose multi-year investigation into the murder was the focus of the documentary.
Producer and director Phil Bertelsen said the FBI had many eyes and ears in the ballroom during the shooting, but the testimony was never heard. Lawyers for the men said the nearly two-year investigation found authorities withheld evidence favorable to the defense during the trial.
State Senator James Sanders said the entire story has not yet been told.
“Who sent them?” Not just the idiots pulling the trigger, but who were the main conspirators? Who are the ones who sat and organized all these things? ”Sanders said.
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A press conference was scheduled for 2 pm after a court Thursday, but was later canceled.