Cory Maye was asleep next to his wife and baby daughter, when he was awakened past midnight by the sound of men breaking into his Prentiss, Mississippi home. Fearing for his life, and for the lives of his family, Maye grabbed his gun and defended his home from what he thought were criminals. In the darkness and confusion, he shot and killed Ron Jones, a police officer who, along with a group of fellow officers, had mistakenly entered the Maye residence in what appeared to be a botched drug raid.
Despite the fact that Maye had no prior record, and the only drug found in his home was the equivalent of one marijuana cigarette, Maye was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die.
Maye says he never gave up hope of being set free. The letters and cards he sent to his children over the years spoke of a future when they would all be together again, though that hope seemed unlikely considering that the dead man was a police officer, and the cop’s grieving family believed justice had been served.
After journalists, activists and other concerned onlookers brought increasing attention to Maye’s plight, a judge who recently reviewed the case threw out the death penalty. When Maye was permitted to plead guilty to manslaughter in June, and was sentenced to time served, Ron Jones’ mother shook her head and the Jones family wept.
Maye says he feels for the officer’s family, but maintains that he shot in self defense. It is an action he paid for with ten years of his life.
“I cried many nights,” says Maye about being separated from the family he had been trying to protect. “Not being able to be with my kids, with my family. That was very hard.”’
Read more and view a video of Maye’s first interview as a free man at HuffingtonPost.com.