Criminal Justice

An Open Letter From Cory Maye


Cory Maye, on the day he learned he was going to be free. Photo by Radley Balko.

Radley Balko has published a note from the soon-to-be-free former death row inmate Cory Maye. Here's a portion:

I realize a lot of people are going to wonder why I accepted a plea. We just felt that regardless of the facts and evidence that pointed in my favor, there was the possibility that one or more jurors could not see it my way, causing a mistrial. That could leave me sitting here another nine months or more, or longer if it keeps repeating that way.

This is Mississippi, and some people refuse to let go of their old ways from the old days. I just didn't want to put my family through any more heartache, and didn't want to have to wait any longer. It was take a chance of a mistrial, or grab hold of my future and be the man/father/friend that I can be, and that my family loves and misses.

I'll forever be grateful to all the friends and supporters that have been with me throughout all of this. I thank God daily because it's good to know this world we live in can have many wonderful & caring people in it. I consider myself blessed to know you all are out there. I'll forever be in your debt. Thanks a million, and may we continue to stay in touch.


Cory J. Maye

The picture of Maye above was taken by Radley this morning. More on the case here.

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  1. Baaalllkkkkkkkoooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

    The joy on his face says it all. Never stop doing that voodoo that you do, Radley.

  2. Best of luck to you Cory. You’ve endured more pain and suffering than any man ought to, and not just from the incarceration. I have little doubt that you also felt true remorse for the entire event leading to it. No one wants to discharge a gun in fear, and when you discovered what happened and what the situation was, I’m sure that regardless of the circumstances that followed, you wish you could have taken it back. Let it be known that, although your situation has been made right to some extent, the fight is not over. We will not rest until the policies that lead to this event- that robbed you of your freedom, that resulted in an unintentional death, and that occur countless times daily across this country- are dismantled.

    Your story is a heart-wrenching one, and you are a modern Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. So tonight, I will take a moment to observe some quiet reflection in your honor. Here’s to you:

    Today you are the Champion of the World

      1. It’s called sugerfreeing the link.

  3. Is it dusty in here?

    Maybe it’s the allergies.

    Awesome work Balko. And for those interested, at Balko’s site there are some comments with links to the following-

    A number of commenters have asked about a mechanism for making donations that could aid Cory and his family as he emerges from prison a free man. The “Cory Maye Justice Fund” that was set up by Radley and Cory’s Mississippi attorney Bob Evans remains open, and donations can be made via check or PayPay using the information below:

    Cory Maye Justice Fund
    c/o R.E. Evans
    P.O. Box 636
    Monticello, MS 39654

    Or you can PayPal to:

    The think that gets me the most about all of this is that Cory seems to be most upset at the fact that he killed a man, not the travesty that was his trial.

    I’m just glad to see that this guy gets to go home.

    1. I know I’m going to be hated for broaching the possibility, but that could be a scam.

  4. Look at that, a nice story from Radley.

  5. This is Mississippi, and some people refuse to let go of their old ways from the old days.

    A very politic way of saying it. Maye sounds like a real gentleman.

    This is excellent news, but I’m going to repost my comment on the earlier Corey Maye thread because I think it’s important to say.

    It is good news that Maye is being released. However, on the scoreboard of justice, it’s still a loss.

    It is my opinion that Corey Maye should have never spent a day in prison, let alone have a felony convicion which still stands on his record and made to serve a ten year prison sentence which the state imposed upon him.

    Corey Maye undoubtedly feels good to be released and at this point, after all the indignity, injustice and degradation of ten years in prison probably doesn’t care about the details. But he leaves prison a convicted felon who killed a police officer.

    Guess how Corey Maye’s next routine traffic stop will look when the officer runs his plate and gets the big red flashing warning on his TTY.

    1. Guess how Corey Maye’s next routine traffic stop will look when the officer runs his plate and gets the big red flashing warning on his TTY.

      If he’s smart, he’ll get the fuck out of Mississippi as soon as the court lets him.

      1. And go to which bastion of freedom and acceptance exactly? The blue wall stretches a cross state lines. So does racism.

        Sad as it is, he has no chance anywhere with this on his record.

    2. While you’re right that nothing can be done now to give him full restitution and repair the damage he’s endured, and that this plea is a devil’s bargain to some extent, we’ll take this partial victory if only because it lets an innocent man breathe the air of freedom again. Hopefully, this fiasco will be something that will change a mind or two about the drug war.

      1. That’s why I was careful to say that at this point, Maye won’t care about the details of his freedom.

        The first time I saw this at work was during the Little Rascal’s Daycare sex abuse case, where after years of incarceration and prosecutorial abuse, people were entertaining the idea of pleading guilty just to get out of prison. It’s hard to watch, but understandable.

    3. A plea bargain sucks for justice, dude, but Corey just wanted out of prison. His life has already been fucked; it’s time to just get back to being free and trying to make the best of it.

      1. Not only that, but as Radley says at his site, Maye is still grappling with the fact that he killed a man, and changed that guys family forever. Aside from all of the injustice, I get the feeling from reading that note from Cory that he carries that around like a 100 pound ball and chain.

        1. That I don’t really get. He shot and killed a man who was violently breaking into his home in the middle of the night.

          Even if it was a mistake (on the part of the people breaking in), Corey bears zero responsibility as he in no way instigated the break in. It’s not his fault in any way.

          1. One need not feel that they were in the wrong in order to still feel remorse for what happened. If you’re dog got rabies and was going to die a slow and painful death and endanger your family in the process and you had to shoot it, you’d feel like you did the right thing, but you’d still feel grief over having had to.

            Cory’s case isn’t much different. Given the circumstances at the time everything occurred, he only did what he had to. Upon learning of everything immediately after, he deeply regretted it. Hell, even if the person breaking in was a burgler or someone who intended harm, it would still be perfectly legitimate to regret taking his life while still maintaining that it was the thing that had to be done. I’ve never killed a man, so I don’t really know what its like. But I don’t imagine its something easy to cope with, whether legitimate or not. It’s a burden that he must carry, and make peace with, and reconcile to any higher power he believes in. Even if justified, that’s a heavy cross to bear.

            1. exactly. it’s similar to how somebody feels when shooting somebody with an unloaded (or plastic ) gun who was attempting suicide by cop.

              just because corey was justified in what he did, it doesn’t therefore follow that he wouldn’t feel sad about it.

              the death of the officer is still tragic, even though (imo) corey was justified in shooting.

              1. The death of anyone committing armed assault is not “tragic.” The officer should not have been attacking anyone in the first place.

          2. That’s all true, but Cory sounds like a real down to earth guy who genuinely feels sorry that this is the guy that he killed.

            Balko said this over at his site-
            “I’ve noted more than a few times here that Officer Ron Jones, Jr., was well-liked in this community, even among blacks, which is something that can’t be said of many white police officers in the area.”

            Even if I was justified in killing another persons father or husband, I would still grieve for their family.

          3. Just because something is not a person’s fault in the moral sense, doesn’t mean a person can’t feel responsible for the bare fact that they’ve taken a life. Talk to soldiers who, most of the time, bear little if any moral responsibility for trying to kill the enemy before he or she kills them; taking life even in those circumstances leaves a serious and often grave impression on a person.

            1. I guess some people treat “it had to be done” different ways. For me, if something has to be done, I’m not going to agonize over it, for essentially, there’s no choice involved.

              1. That’s the thing. The whole situation got out of control before anyone could decide what “had to be done”. I bet Cory spent countless hours in jail saying to himself that he should’ve just waited a few more seconds before firing off those three rounds. Jail gives you plenty of time to think about things.

                And again, he was completely justified, but those three seconds of his life ended up costing him ten years in jail, no thanks to a messed up Law enforcement and judicial system.

              2. Well, it can’t be that black and white. The majority opinion in this country still seems to support what the police did in this case. My good and decent police officers still perform the kinds of actions that were done in Cory’s case. Fuck it, it’s wrong for them to barge in on Cory’s home for a minor drug offense, but those officers were still good people and their families have lost a lot.

                And it shows the kind of human being Cory is for caring about the officers. I hope the families don’t hold any grudge against Cory.

              3. this is frankly, complete rubish. you have NO idea if and when you had to kill a man (whether legally justified or not) if you would or wouldn’t agonize over it.

                there are certainly numerous people (i’ve known several) who were severely emotionally (and physically – since they are connected) damaged, much to their surprise after having to take a life in similar circs.

                this is just macho speculation on your part. when and if you have to take a life, THEN you will now how it will affect you. also, as many soldiers etc. learned, it’s one thing to say how you would feel, but you’ll never KNOW until it happens.

                1. Calm down there, princess. Don’t have a hissy fit. There’s nothing macho about it; I’m merely speculating and looking back on my own history and times I’ve had to do something I would never have wanted to do but had to, and looking at it from there. I realize I’ve never killed someone and hope never to find out what it’s like. But I am also someone who believes guilt is an utterly useless emotion.

                  1. i’m a fast princess … what can i say? just hope you never have to take a life and rest assured that despite what you intellectually think about guilt being a useless emotion, you are still (i hope) a human being and you simply have no way of knowing how profoundly it will affect you.

                    dats all

                  2. guilt is an utterly useless emotion.

                    I’m not sure its guilt he feels as much as grief. One need not be guilty to grieve. I think that’s the point. Either way, I just hope Cory is released by the 4th, it would be fitting for him to spend independence day vindicated and with his family.

                    1. correct. this is semantical, but ‘guilt’ implies feeling badly about something you did that was wrong

                      grief, etc. does not

                      this is why attorney/insurance co’s tell people NEVER to say “i’m sorry” to the other person after a vehicle collision. it IMPLIES recognition you were at least partially at fault

                      “i’m sad” does not, even though it sounds weird.

                    2. guilt is an utterly useless emotion

                      Aha. The key to how Episiarch manages to live with himself.

                    3. it was very leona helmsley “guilt is for the little people”

              4. For me, if something has to be done, I’m not going to agonize over it, for essentially, there’s no choice involved.

                Looks like there’s a little Inquisitor in all of us.

  6. It may be hard to believe, but our government is literal at war with people like Cory Maye.

    May the whole fucking power structure crumble to the ground!

  7. I’m glad Cory’s getting out. He’s suffered way too much at the hands of the corrupt mississippi system to be put through any more. Thanks for the chin lifter Balko, my nuts needed a break.

  8. This is journalism. This is making a difference.

    If you ever do win a standard journalism award, Radley, refuse it or smash it on the ground and say “I don’t want an award from a group of people of whom I was the only one who cared about this story. PEACE OUT BITCHEZ!” and then walk out. Maybe end with “LATER HATERZ!” instead.

    1. Or mabye, “We’s gots to lay out some ground rulz. Furst, I want an Indian bitch and a Chinese bitch, both with large ass tittays. Next, I wants me a trillion dollas. Finally, y’all can kiss my huge white ass!”

      1. “And I…am…OUTTA HERE!”

    2. I’m nominating him for the Peace Prize.

      1. What’s that? “Barack Obama deserves another peace prize.”?!

        1. maybe if balko commits some hostilities and then gets some fast talking lawyer to deny they are hostilities, he can put in for the prize. they are rather selective, you see

          1. In all seriousness though, Balko legitimately deserves Pulitzer consideration. Granted, they’ve never given a Pulitzer to a blogger to my knowledge, but I’d imagine that now he is with left-wing HuffPo, he’s more likely to get the recognition he deserves. If they’re going to consider a blogger, it’ll have to be at a blog that has the stamp of approval from the left-leaning journo establishment.

            1. Yeah, not sure how much that publication helps his credibility. He does great work, and HuffPo’s mainstream, but it’s not the Pulitzer snob’s kind of mainstream.

  9. Glad you’re getting out, Mr. Maye. Godspeed.

  10. Side Note: The photo made this story.
    Cory’s letter shows a surprising gift of prose. Perhaps we can get more writing from Cory here in the future?

  11. What’s the mandatory parole tail on a manslaughter conviction in Mississippi?

  12. After all the great articles Balko wrote that made me angry and frustrated, it’s nice to see a Balko story with a happy ending.

    Usually Balko stories end with “and the internal investigation cleared all officers” or “and the jury convicted him anyway.”

  13. Cory Maye dead pool? 3 in the back on 9/19/2011.

  14. Why isn’t this info being reported in the mainstream?????????? check this out

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