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A D.C. man serving a life sentence will soon walk free as early as next week, a judge announced in D.C. Superior Court Friday afternoon.
Judge Robert Salerno suspended Momolu Stewart’s sentence to time served plus three days and probation for five years. Stewart and another man, Kareem McCraney, were convicted of shooting and killing 23-year-old Mark Rosebure in 1999. Stewart was 16 years old at the time of the shooting and has served almost 23 years.
Stewart earned his GED and took through the Georgetown Prisoner’s Scholars program. In addition to mentioning Stewart’s dedication to education and mentoring others, the judge directly addressed him in court.
“You seem to have some talents and gifts sir,” Judge Salerno said.
The judge encouraged Stewart to continue his education and to help rehabilitate others. He also said there was little more Stewart could do to rehabilitate “except more of the same.”
Family members and victims, including for another crime Stewart committed in the late 1990s involving the victim of an assault with dangerous weapon, were given the opportunity to speak or provide a written statement throughout the proceedings. None were provided in court.
More than 30 people filled the courtroom for the hearing, including friends and members of the press. Among them was McCraney—Stewart's co-defendant in the murder case.
McCraney was previously released from prison under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act in 2018. The act allows eligible inmates, who were juveniles tried as adults, the ability to petition to have their sentences reduced, Judge Salerno explained at the hearing.
McCraney told Oxygen.com that his release has given him another opportunity at life and that the legislation is based on scientific findings that juveniles will age out of crime.
“I stand here to attest to that fact that I no longer engage in criminal activity,” McCraney said. “I no longer have criminal thoughts. I am no longer under the illusion that I have to live my life in an illegal manner in order to succeed, to have a measure of success.”
McCraney now works as a program analyst for the D.C. Corrections Information Council and supported Stewart’s release, saying Stewart was a different person now than when he was as a teenager.
“Basically [he was] for all intents and purposes being left to really fend for himself and really build himself up as an individual at a time when he should’ve been nurtured and loved,” McCraney said. “And so, he found that, just as many of us did, amongst each other out in the streets.”
Kim Kardashian West as part of an upcoming Oxygen documentary. Following their meeting, Kardashian West in support of Stewart’s resentencing.
“While incarcerated Momolu, in an attempt to somehow turn his life around, even though the rest of his natural life would seemingly be spent in prison took classes, including Dr. Howard’s Georgetown Prisoner’s Scholars program,” Kardashian West wrote. “He helped set up programs to help other prisoners. He took every opportunity to re-imagine his life while staying completely out of trouble.”
Kardashian West’s letter of support was the fortieth Stewart received,
Stewart had a childhood marked by violence, She explained Stewart’s mother killed his father when he was six and “Momolu turned to the streets for guidance.”
While Judge Salerno noted in court he views Stewart as a “different person” than the juvenile who committed the crime, he added Stewart must obtain and maintain a job as well as other requirements if probation deems appropriate, including spot drug testing and possible GPS monitoring.
Halim Flowers, a fellow participant in the Georgetown Prison Scholars Program and longtime friend of Stewart’s, was released from prison earlier this year. He also came to show his support at the hearing.
"I believe that anyone who has a sense of humanity can see that what goes on in our criminal justice and prison system today is not humane and is not loving,” Flowers said.
Flowers now works as a social justice activist and spoken word poet. He also started the production company while he was still incarcerated, which aims to use its platform to tell stories about mass incarceration.
Stewart’s case will be featured in Oxygen’s upcoming documentary “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project.” He is expected to be released next week.
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