After an inquiry determined that the government concealed vital evidence regarding one of the most prominent killings of the civil rights era, two of the men labelled as the killers of Malcolm X in 1965 are expected to have their convictions overturned.
Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said he planned to submit a court petition on Thursday recognizing that the two men, now identified as Muhammad A. Prosecutors would join attorneys for the two men in seeking a court to overturn their convictions at an afternoon hearing, he added.
The decision comes after a 22-month investigation by defense lawyers and Manhattan prosecutors, who found that the men were unfairly convicted.
The inquiry uncovered papers indicating that the district attorney’s office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York Police Department failed to analyses important material and failed to share witness and informant testimonies that may have helped exonerate the men.
Instead, Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam, then known as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, were sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for the murder of Malcolm X, a hustler-turned-minister who became an icon of the civil rights movement and was shot to death in a crowded Washington Heights ballroom.
The guys have maintained their innocence for decades. Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were not involved, according to Mujahid Halim, a third individual who was convicted in the assassination after confessing on the witness stand. However, the men’s appeals were turned down, and their convictions were affirmed in the late 1970s.
All of the eyewitnesses, whose often contradictory testimonies and dubious identifications of the individuals were the only proof of their involvement that day, are now deceased. Investigators stated it was impossible to prove the men’s true innocence 56 years later.
The reviewers also couldn’t connect the crime to four other persons who Mr. Halim said were his accomplices. They also didn’t reveal who ordered the killing, which occurred after Malcolm X’s tumultuous departure with the Nation of Islam.
Last year, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., agreed to investigate the case ahead of the broadcast of a documentary series called “Who Killed Malcolm X?”
The investigation also turned up records suggesting that officials failed to divulge the presence of undercover cops in the ballroom, as well as descriptions of the gunmen provided by informants and witnesses, all of which verified Mr. Halim’s precise account of the crime.
The omissions directly related to the identification issue at the heart of the case, according to the panel.
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