By Kurt Streeter

A Missouri inmate whose appeal of his 50-year sentence for burglary and assault has been backed by the W.N.B.A. star Maya Moore had his conviction overturned by a state judge on Monday.

Before a packed courtroom in Jefferson City, Judge Daniel Green capped months of review by issuing a ruling that vacated the guilty verdict of the victim, Jonathan Irons, and ordered that he be released from the maximum security prison where he has been behind bars for the last 23 years.

Tears welled in Moore’s eyes as she sat in the front row, surrounded by nearly 20 members of her family and friends. “It felt so surreal,” she said, describing the moment in a brief interview shortly after the hearing was over. “We finally have justice. I was just thinking, ‘Did this really happen? Did it?’”

Moore — who in early 2019 stunned the basketball world by announcing a hiatus from her career in large part to help Irons — was quick to note that the case is not over. The Missouri attorney general’s office and prosecutors in St. Charles County, where the crime took place, now have roughly 45 days to decide whether to appeal or retry the case. In that time, Irons’s lawyer will seek to have him released on bond.

The Missouri Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the case.

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