*Two of the three men convicted for the assassination of Malcolm X are expected to be exonerated on Thursday, according to their legal team.
As reported by NBC News, three Nation of Islam members were charged with the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, and each was sentenced to life in prison. The civil rights icon was fatally shot on Feb. 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, where hundreds had gathered to hear him speak.
Muhammad Aziz, Mujahid Abdul Halim, and Khalil Islam were convicted of the murder in 1966 and sentenced to life in prison. The men were imprisoned for decades before Aziz, 83, was released in 1985. Islam was released two years later and died in 2009. Halim was reportedly granted parole and released from prison in 2010.
Aziz and Islam always maintained their innocence. Aziz and Islam’s estate are represented by the Innocence Project and New York-based civil rights law firm Shanies Law Office. They worked with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to get the men’s names cleared, The New York Times reports.
Vance told NBC News that they would “move to vacate the wrongful convictions of two individuals for the murder of Malcolm X” on Thursday afternoon.
This latest development reportedly follows a 22-month investigation which found that prosecutors, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York Police Department withheld key evidence that would have acquitted Aziz and Islam.
“The events that brought us here should never have occurred; those events were and are the result of a process that was corrupt to its core — one that is all too familiar — even in 2021,” Aziz said Wednesday in a statement released by his lawyers.
“While I do not need a court, prosecutors, or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent, I am glad that my family, my friends, and the attorneys who have worked and supported me all these years are finally seeing the truth we have all known, officially recognized,” he continued.
At the time of the murder, Mujahid Abdul Halim was known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan; Aziz was known as Norman 3X Butler; and Islam was known as Thomas 15X Johnson.
Halim admitted to playing a role in Malcolm X’s killing and maintained that Aziz and Islam did not take part in it. Despite the lack of physical evidence and contradictory witness statements, Aziz and Islam, who reportedly had solid alibis, were convicted for the killing.
A six-part Netflix documentary series released last year titled “Who Killed Malcolm X?” attempts to answer the title’s question.
“The day of the murder, which was a Sunday morning, I was laying over the couch with my foot up and I heard it over the radio,” Aziz recalled in the doc.
Filmmaker Abdur-Rahman Muhammad reportedly identified the trigger man on his blog as William Bradley, (AKA [Al-]Mustafa Shabazz).
“‘ ‘He is the man who fired the first and deadliest shot which ripped through the chest of the powerful Black leader on that cold 21st day of February, 1965,’ Muhammad wrote. ‘How ironic is it that “Willie” Bradley appears in a recent public safety campaign commercial for Mayor Cory Booker‘ of Newark?”