Cory Maye to Be Released From Prison "Within Days"


Former Reason criminal justice reporter Radley Balko, appropriately enough, has the story:

MONTICELLO, Miss.—After 10 years of incarceration, and seven years after a jury sentenced him to die, 30-year-old Cory Maye will soon be going home. Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell signed a plea agreement Friday morning in which Maye pled guilty to manslaughter for the 2001 death of Prentiss, Mississippi, police officer Ron Jones, Jr.

Per the agreement, Harrell then sentenced Maye to 10 years in prison, time he has now already served. Maye will be taken to Rankin County, Mississippi, for processing and some procedural work. He is expected to be released within days.

Read Balko's October 2006 Reason feature on "The Case of Cory Maye" here. Check out's "Mississippi Drug War Blues" below:

And here's Balko–who was recently named "Journalist of the Year" by the Los Angeles Press Club–talking to about helping get Maye off death row:

This is a great day for individual justice, and for the notion that you don't need a newsroom of 500 people to make a difference in this messed-up world.

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  1. Keep up the good work, Radley. You are a real hero.

    1. +1,000,000,000

      Also, what is the opposite of a nutpunch? A handjob?

      1. Concentrate and ask again.

    2. +1,000,000,000

      Also, what is the opposite of a nutpunch? A handjob?

    3. +1,000,000,000

      Also, what is the opposite of a nutpunch? A handjob?

      1. Just one, I think. Three seems excessive.

        1. Too many handjobs? HERETIC!

          1. Ah, to be young again…

        2. Only one handjob for getting someone off death row? Wat?!

        3. Three seems like a recipe for friction burn.

          1. You can space ’em out, y’know!

  2. oops

  3. Radley has actually helped get someone off death row and out of jail. Amazing. Well done, Radley. It’s insulting that he had to agree to a manslaughter charge for defending his home, but I’m sure Maye doesn’t give a shit about those little details right now.

    1. After ten years in prison, five or six of em on death row, Cory probably doesn’t give two fucks about whatever it is he had to plea to.

      1. It’s hard not to think that was demanded simply to give cover to law enforcement and prosecutors. I don’t claim to know the facts well enough to opine, but from what I’ve read, it’s hard to view that in any other way.

        If I could change just one thing about our culture, it might be this inability for people to admit and be held accountable for error.

        1. Do you think that maybe people aren’t willing to admit that there are justifiable killings of law enforcement officers?

          1. I suppose there’s something to that, too.

          2. Also–just thought of this–pleading guilty to manslaughter may make it harder for him to sue for restitution.

            1. I think it will probably make it impossible, since the plea deal would carry the implication that the fault lay with Mr Maye.

              And that is assuming there was no language forbidding Maye from suing in the plea deal.

              1. Also, any inquiries into prosecutorial misconduct or investigations into policing methods will be easily shrugged off.

                1. Well, I guess the media will have to take up the baton as the Fourth Estate.

              2. One could argue the plea deal is either a) signed under duress or b) akin to double jeopardy.

    2. I agree with the thought, but let’s not say this is a “great day for individual justice.” Instead of robbing a man of his life they only robbed him of 10 years. Let’s leave it at that.

    3. I actually think manslaughter is the appropriate charge here. Whatever you think about SWAT raids gone wrong, and an individual’s right to self defense, we don’t allow citizens to kill people, particularly cops. I can’t think of many instances, even accidental ones, where killing a cop won’t be accompanied by a manslaughter charge.

      We had a recent example of this in Long Island, NY, where a cop was on the shoulder of a highway pulling someone over. A truck driver who had been awake for a long time at the wheel nodded off and struck the cop, killing him. The facts suggest this was purely accidental (no drugs/alcohol/impairments) with no intent but the trucker was charged with criminally negligent homicide. It’s a tragedy but not a crime in my book. But it was a cop that died, and cops can only die at the hands of criminals in most peoples’ minds.

      1. Driving while impaired is not comparable to shooting an intruder in your home.

        we don’t allow citizens to kill people, particularly cops

        What does that even mean? We absolutely “allow” people to kill in self defense.

      2. Cops’ lives are not more important than anyone else’s. To privilege their lives is to abet and underwrite all the bullshit that they pull that stems from them thinking they are better than everyone else.

        They have a dangerous job, one that they themselves chose to do. Farmers have, on average, a more dangerous job and one that is, if anything, more important to the lives and livelihood of everyone in society. Nobody argues that their lives are worth more than others due to this.

        1. Farmers have, on average, a more dangerous job and one that is, if anything, more important to the lives and livelihood of everyone in society.

          I just looked up the 20 most deadly professions and while being a cop isn’t first, they make the most money on the list. It’s not like they’re doing the shit for free, on the contrary, they are well compensated.

      3. fuck off bootlicker.

        1. fuck off bootlicker

          Its the new “STFU Lonewhacko”

      4. I’m working from memory here, but I believe Maye fired shots because he was in fear for his life from unknown, armed intruders. If that’s the case, it’s not manslaughter. Naturally, there could be some argument over what he knew, but the burden of proof if this went to trial would be on the guys trying to convict him, not the other way around.

        1. while the burden of proof would be on the prosecution, in many states, the burden to prove self-defense as a defense is on the defense. my state (fortunately) is the reverse. the burden is on the state to DISPROVE self-defense. i can’t speak for maye’s home state’s law, but the fact is that in many states, while the state has the burden to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, given a self-defense defense, the defense does have an affirmative burden

          1. also, iirc usuallt that burden is by a “preponderance” of the evidence

  4. Won’t one of you get a boombox and go stand outside the Radster’s window?
    This is where he belongs!

  5. The comments over at HuffPo… jeebus. Case used as a justification for gun bans? Check. Dunphyesque Maye-deserved-it-for-killing-a-cop? Check.

    Anyhow, good on Radley for reporting an end to Mr. Maye’s imprisonment. It must feel good after beating that drum for so long.

    1. Reading Huffpo comments is like reading Youtube comments. Just don’t do it man.

      1. They are worse than Slate comments.

        1. But easier to get to. I don’t even understand their comment system.

    2. The comments there make me just shake my head at what Balko-noobs they are.

      “When police enter a building to pursue a suspect they always shout very loudly “POLICE” or “SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT?” over and over. These guy had to be high on crack not to hear them or he just didn’t care.”

      “if he could see that they had a gun (small object)d, how could he not see their police uniform?”

      Some folks need to learn about these raids. Maybe they will keep reading Radley’s stories, and not believe TV cop shows as much.

    3. spare me the rubbish. i NEVER supported the prosecution, let alone conviction of Maye!

      Maye being released is a victory! For justice!

    4. please cite ANY instance where i EVER supported the prosecution, let alone imprisonment of maye. I have NEVER supported his imprisonment, and you are a stone cold liar for implying that i did. I do NOT support injustices ever, and maye’s imprisonment was clearly an injustice.

      sad when the only shit you have to say is blatant lies. you will not be able to support your assertion. feel free to search the archives till your fingers bleed, you won’t ever find an instance of me supporting either the prosecution or conviction of maye.

      maye’s imprisonment was an injustice period.

    5. lie. please cite where i EVER supported maye’s conviction.

      place your cite here:


  6. Radley Balko! F*CK YEAH!

  7. I am so happy he is getting out of prison. But he lost ten years of his life and went through hell when he shouldn’t have been charged at all. And he still has to plead guilty to manslaughter. And the prosecutor who did this still gets to say “he was guilty of something”. That sucks.

    1. Yeah, and it’s especially fucked up when you compare it to the mere one year served by that asshole BART cop, Mehserle, for shooting an unarmed man in the back while he was lying on his stomach, killing him. No justice at all for Oscar Grant, except for a pending lawsuit by his parents, which will be 100% paid by the taxpayers.

      1. you mean the sentence that balko supported in the BART shooting? iow, the correct one under the law?

        maye’s imprisonment was an injustice. the BART prosecution was not

        1. Is one year really the same sentence one of us ‘citizens’ would get for manslaughter?

          1. depends if all the facts and circumstances were similar. iow, was it truly involuntary manslaughter as was the case in the BART shooting? i realize the reasonmeme(tm) is that “cops always get off” or “get lighter sentences” but that’s simply not true. heck, juries find citizens not guilty all the time, for example, even when prosecutors think it was manslaughter or murder. look at the bernie goetz case as a classic example.

            the fact pattern in the BART shooting, as Balko (and I ) pointed out are rather unique. on the surface it looks like stone cold murder. however, it was not (or at least not easily provable as such).

            you would have to look at cases where

            1) the sentence was involuntary manslaughter (and not PLED DOWN to involuntary manslaughter, but where the actual only crime provable was involuntary manslaughter)


            2) the defendant had NO priors (felony or misdemeanor) which was the case with mehserle. people in cali on average serve substantially more than 24 months (as mehserle was sentenced) but also rarely meet those 2 criteria i just mentioned

            you can argue 24 months is light, but it is exactly what the sentencing guidelines state (36 months standard with 24 months for mitigating circ’s)

            the reality is the average involuntary manslaughter defendant is sentenced to much more, but the average invol manslaughter defendant is also not a first time offender, with a spotless record (not by a long shot)

            you can argue mehserle’s sentence was disparately light, otoh you could argue the border patrol agent’s was disparately long

            either way, though, i can tell you from filing scores ofcases with the prosecutor’s office that the # of priors is a HUGE factor in invol manslaughter cases.

  8. I remember reading about this during my early days as a magazine subscriber. A true eye opener for me as I began to realize the pervasive capacity for evil within Drug War in particular, and the state in general. Needless to say the fact that his incarceration lingered on didn’t exactly fill me with joy.

    This does. Radley, you are now the archetype of the hero journalist that I thought only existed in the movies. Not sure what superlatives to say about your work, but the simple words of “Radley helped save a man’s life” should stand on their own.

  9. Good news for him and his family, bad news for justice: He had to plead guilty when he was clearly not, jsut so he could return to his family – that is NOT justice. He was duly defending his home from an armed thug.

    1. Agreed. This is more like the relief you feel when that hobnailed boot that was stomping your face for eternity stops. Sure, you’re happy to be free from the stomping….

  10. This is a great day for individual justice,…

    No, just because a man is so beaten down that he will sign something to get his freedom doesn’t make it justice. But I am glad that Mr Maye can go home.

    ….and for the notion that you don’t need a newsroom of 500 people to make a difference in this messed-up world.

    Yes. 10^google times, yes!

    Kudos to Radley.

  11. I am now glad that Balko went to the HuffPo, because this is the front-page story right now. All us fringe weirdos who care about “liberty” and “justice” may have known the details of this, but now thousands of people will get a glimpse of what the drug war and police militarization are doing to this country.

    1. Also, in a just world, Radley’s man-servant would be polishing his Pulitzer collection while Nancy Grace was in a federal prison for the criminally insane.

      1. Completely agree. Balko’s work is what journalism should be. I can’t think of anything in my career that’s a hundredth as meaningful as getting a man off of Death Row, and then released early from a life sentence.

        Fantastic work, Radley. Please keep doing it.

  12. While it’s unquestionably good that he’s finally getting out, in order for there to be justice in this case requires about a dozen more things to happen.

    Job well done, Mr. Balko.

  13. Just another reminder that Libertarians are selfish jerks who only care about themselves. I wonder how many unjustly convicted black men Stephen Metcalf or John Cole have gotten off of death row and into the arms of their families?

    1. let’s not play the race card. an injustice is an injustice, regardless of race. maye’s conviction was an injustice, just like oj’s acquittal was. both were black men, and in neither case is race relevant to the fact that they were injustices.

      1. I think you missed the point. Hal was pointing out how this flies in the face of the leftist meme that libertarians are all a bunch of selfish, fat white men who don’t care a whit about the poor and downtrodden, especially if they’re minorities.

        1. you are correct. that is a valid point. my bad

  14. Good news.

    1. Telltale signs you are in a mirror universe:

      1. Vulcans have beards.
      2. Radley Balko is delivering good news.

      1. Yeah, I had to check and make sure no one had slipped anything into my Dr Pepper.

        I’m still not sure.

        (Good on ya, Radley.)

  15. And here’s Balko?who was recently named “Journalist of the Year” by the Los Angeles Press Club

    I am a little rusty in these matters: is being named “Journalist of the Year” by the Los Angeles Press Club kind of a big deal, or more akin to be called “Student of the Week” in Kindergarden?

    1. It’s like being Student of the Year in kindergarten!

      1. So it’s kinda like a People’s Choice Award?

        1. But still better than a Grammy.

          1. They still have those?

        2. Teen Choice Award.

  16. This is the best news I’ve read all day. Balko 2012!

  17. Why is it that whenever I think of Balko, the scene from Shawshank where Norton has Tommy shot always pops into my head?

  18. This is a great day for individual justice, and for the notion that you don’t need a newsroom of 500 people to make a difference in this messed-up world.

    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.

  19. Where’s Tulpa to explain to us that this case is exactly why we need the death penalty?

  20. I agree that the fact that he still has to plead guilty is just insane and a travesty of justice, but it’s better than him still being in jail.

    Kudos again to Mr. Balko. This news is almost worth all the nut punches.

  21. I think it’s a fortunate coincidence that his crime just happened to deserve a punishment equivalent to the time he has already spent in prison. Wow, what are the odds of that?

  22. What’s certainly going to get lost in this is that if Maye hadn’t been sentenced to death, he would have exhausted his appeals much earlier and almost certainly remained in prison for life.

    Think about that next time you hear someone gushing about how much money we could save by eliminating the death penalty. Most of that extra expenditure is furnishing the extravagant system of appeals that death row inmates get.

    1. Wow, my brains hurt.

    2. Tulpa, I’m a death penalty supporter, but there’s no reason that sentencing reform could address issues of justice like Corey Maye’s– if they eliminated the death penalty.

      1. Do you mean “couldn’t”?

        If so, I agree…but that’s going to eliminate the fiscal savings some death penalty opponents use as an argument for eliminating it.

        1. Yes, sorry, couldn’t.

    3. This may be a spoof of the Tulpster, but it’s so spot on that I can’t even tell.

      1. I do not think this is a spoof of Tulpa. He always argues this. I read a lot of these threads, I just don’t always comment. He’s dead set on his death penalty/appeals/nobody has proof of an executed, innocent man argument.

      2. DNA testing reveals that it isn’t a spoof.

        This isn’t really an argument for capital punishment, it’s an argument against an argument against capital punishment.

      3. I guess what sticks in my craw is the people who hold up exonerations of death row inmates as evidence we should get rid of CP, but appear to have little practical concern for the many innocent people who are probably locked up for life having exhausted the relatively meager appeals system available to them.

        It makes one suspect that such people care less about making sure innocent people don’t get punished, than they care about waving the bloody shirt for their philosophical opposition to CP. My only concern is making sure innocent people don’t get punished, whether we’re talking about the death penalty or being locked up for 20 years in the prime of your life.

        1. there is NO way to “make sure” innocent people don’t get convicted. the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. unfortunately, even if (and it’s a big IF), all witnesses tell the truth and have perfect recollection, cops do their job as best they can, ditto prosecutor and defense attorney, etc. the innocent can and will be convicted on occasion.

          technological advancements e.g. DNA help to better convict the actually innocent and exonerate the actually innocent in some cases (and assuming no assmunchery on the part of prosecutors etc.) but the justice system cannot achieve perfect knowledge. it’s literally a practical impossibility.

  23. This post is a bunch of Koch propaganda. Balko just wants to dismantle the government so his rich bosses can buy a yacht with the money that saved by ending the drug war.

  24. Kudos to Balko for his work.
    I am very happy Mr Maye is now a free man. Too bad he has an unjust manslaughter conviction. I hope he can eventually get that removed.

  25. Congrats to Balko. He has promoted the cause of justice. Sad to say Maye had to spend as much time in prison as he did, and I hope he wins a bad-ass civil judgment. He deserves it.

    Maye’s case was an injustice, not just from a results angle (which is necessarily part of any system) but from a process angle, which is NEVER ok.

    It’s hard to say justice has been served since Maye had to serve time before he was released, but I applaud his release and hope he gets substantial redress.

    1. Don’t worry, he’ll get a payday. He’ll right a book with ‘Boo’ Radley and go on Stosel every night to make sure of it.

    2. “and I hope he wins a bad-ass civil judgment”

      Not gonna happen. First, he plead down to a lesser offense, so as far as the system is concerned, he’s definitely guilty. And he’s guilty of something that happened to result in a sentence that’s exactly what he served, so he never served a day as a wrongfully convicted man. So, what exactly could he sue for?

      1. these are good points. i guess it’s a groundless hope on my part.

    3. “Sad to say Maye had to spend as much time in prison as he did . . . ”

      You meant sad that he spent even one day behind bars, right??

  26. Justice is finally done-a miracle. The incompetency of the raiding party is so obvious. Any competent force would blown him away.

  27. Justice?
    I don’t see justice. How is it justice to defend your home from intuders (even if they are cops who invading the wrong home) and be guilty of manslaughter.

    Incompetent police work got that cop killed. Any one lose their job over that? I doubt it. Instead Cory Maye lives under a death sentence and loses 10 years of his life.

    He should be getting reparations for time served. That would be as close to justice as could happen. That and firing the official who is at fault for raiding the wrong house, unless of course, it was the fault of the dead cop. Now THAT would be a small bit of justice in a case that has had none.

  28. Thank you, Reason. I love stories like this – and the associated comments – that help reveal the true pathology behind the ‘libertarian’ reasoning of many of your staffers and readers.

    A man shot and killed a cop who was just doing his job. And everyone wants to say the cops were in the wrong. Ridiculous.

    1. Correction:

      *A man who was defending his home from intrusion shot and killed a cop who was just doing his job incorrectly

      But I guess conservatives think that cops can never be wrong

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