A Letter From Cory Maye

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I had originally planned to post a video interview with Cory Maye for you this afternoon. But he’s understandably overwhelmed with emotion today. I’ll touch a bit more on this in a piece I’m working on for Huffington Post, but just after the plea was finalized, Maye read a statement he had written to the family of Ron Jones, Jr.. He then left the courtroom for a witness room in the back. I went in to talk with him. Cory Maye always smiles. Bob Evans, his attorney, thinks it may have rubbed the jury the wrong way during his trial. Evans says even on the day he was sentenced to death, he was smiling. But just moments after learning he’d soon be free this morning, Cory Maye wasn’t smiling. His eyes were dropping tears.

I asked him what he was thinking. He started to answer, but couldn’t. So, Evans, Maye, attorney Ben Vernia and I sat for a few moments in silence. Evans then asked, “You’re thinking about Ron, aren’t you? About the Jones family?”

Maye nodded, and dropped his head into his hand.

“I can’t tell you how many times that happens,” Evans told me later. “He grieves for them.”

Until that moment, it’s an aspect of this story I don’t think I had really considered. It must be an incredible burden to know you’ve taken another man’s life, that you’ve caused a pain and sense of loss for all the people who knew and loved that person, and that for them, that pain and loss are permanent.

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. Independent of how convinced Cory Maye, his family, his attorneys, or anyone else may be of his legal or moral innocence, independent of the fact that he was put in an awful predicament set in place by bad policies and bad judgment, independent of all of that, he will still always know that he killed a man, a man he respected, a man he now knows meant him no real harm the night all this happened. That’s a hell of a thing to carry around. And it isn’t something he’ll leave behind with his orange jumpsuit.

I took the photo above at the Lawrence County Jail, obviously in a lighter moment. It was a few hours after this morning’s plea. Maye had just told us he wanted to and of take his kids to Disneyland, then described the pot of gumbo his mother would be cooking for his homecoming celebration. The smile came back.

Since he wasn’t up for the video, Maye did ask me to pass along a note he wrote this morning to the people who have written him, advocated for him on the Internet, and otherwise supported him over the years.

So here’s a letter to you, from him:

I really don’t know where to start because I’ve missed out on so much in 9 1/2 years. I guess my first 3-4 weeks spent bonding with family & friends. Me and the kids will probably spend a lot of time fishing and going to the park for walks, where we can talk about about whatever comes to mind.

I know I must get a job as soon as possible. There are a few things my kids have asked for in the last few years that I haven’t been able to get them. I know they’re going to be really excited knowing I’m home, and that daddy will be there for their b-days, Christmas, and more. Maybe we’ll stay up all night watching movies, eating cookies and ice cream.

I guess I’m just ready to share all this love that I have built up inside of me all these years. No more late nights or days just wishing I can hold my kids & tell them that their daddy loves them with all his heart. I’m sure my not being physically present has affected them in many ways. I just pray that it’s not too late, and together we can work on healing one another.

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

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47 Responses to “A Letter From Cory Maye”

  1. #1 |  Sandy | 

    That was a great read; thanks. Is there a fund being set up for him post-release?

  2. #2 |  Adrienne | 

    This brought me to tears. If there is a post-release fund for Cory, please let us know about it — I’d love to contribute. Radley, once again, I’m proud to call you a friend.

  3. #3 |  Jack | 

    I have tears. I just want to give this kid a hug and then I wish I could hug Ron Jones’ family as well. It’s such a sad story, such a tragedy for all involved.

    Nice job sticking with this story Radley. If you don’t do anything else for the rest of your career as a journalist, you will have done more than most.

  4. #4 |  Abram Pafford | 

    I am reposting my post from the other thread, because I know a number of commenters are interested in contributing to a post-release fund:

    I echo the comments of everyone here who has praised Radley’s work on this case. It was a privilege to get to know and work with Radley after becoming involved in the case. It is easy for things to get lost in the “noise” of the Internet, but Radley’s initial postings on this case in December 2005 were so compelling, and his research so thorough, that it became impossible for me and the others involved in the case to simply read the story and then go on with our lives.

    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: corymayejusticefund@gmail.com

    Finally, on behalf of Cory, Cory’s family, and his legal team, I want to thank all of the commenters who followed the case and cheered us on over the years. There were many times when the outcome was far from certain, and it was always encouraging for Cory and those working on his behalf to know that people cared about him, and believed fervently that he deserved to regain his freedom and be re-united with his family.

  5. #5 |  B | 

    Um…sorry, there seems to be something in my eye…

    I’ll second the request for any info on a post-release fund.

  6. #6 |  Bob | 

    Wow. What a story. One man lost his life, another suffered incarceration for 10 years.

    All because a group of cops either didn’t have the balls or the departmental support to ring a doorbell.

    Radley, keep following op on this. Does Cory have trouble finding employment? Does he get friction from the community? All that stuff.

  7. #7 |  B | 

    Thank you Abram!

  8. #8 |  goober1223 | 

    Re: Cory Maye Fund

    Who is available to assure the veracity of the supposed Justice Fund? Radley? I rarely give money to charity (young, not enough saved up for myself) but I will be happy to give to Cory Maye, given I know it will go directly to his hands.

    This is a remarkable post. Congratulations Mr. Maye. You’re unfettered optimism is remarkable. Enjoy the time with your kids. I can’t imagine losing them for so long.

  9. #9 |  Irving Washington | 

    He doesn’t really owe anyone an explanation for the plea deal, but the one he offered makes it very understandable. It’s just great that he’s out.

  10. #10 |  Aresen | 

    Bless you, Cory Maye. May you find peace and joy.

  11. #11 |  A Letter From Cory Maye « Drug WarRant | 

    […] A Letter From Cory Maye Over at the Agitator […]

  12. #12 |  An Open Letter From Cory Maye - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine | 

    […] Welch | July 1, 2011 Radley Balko has published a note from the soon-to-be-free former death row inmate Cory Maye. Here's a […]

  13. #13 |  DK | 

    Maybe the next governor of Mississippi will pardon him – it doesn’t seem Haley Barbour is up to it (http://www.slate.com/id/2238938/).

  14. #14 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I’m very happy to hear that this innocent man will finally be able to leave prison, but I’m disgusted that the state wouldn’t let him go until he’d confessed to a crime he didn’t commit. He defended himself from a violent invasion of his home. I’m sorry for that police officer’s family, but Cory still did the right thing.


  15. #15 |  Leah | 


  16. #16 |  Abram Pafford | 

    Re: Goober’s question about confirming the authenticity of the Cory Maye Justice Fund, Radley has posted about it before, and you can find the posts in the Agitator archives. I am sure he will post a reminder again soon, on this site and/or over at Huffington Post.

  17. #17 |  Cory Maye To Soon Be Freed! - INGunOwners | 

    […] The saddest part was that the cop who foolishly broke into Cory's house was a decent man, by all reports. He just did something monumentally stupid and, in a sane world illegal, and he paid for it with his life. The no knock crap has to stop. Here's a letter from Cory, (and some insight by Radley Balko) to his supporters. He's really glad to be looking freedom in the eye. A Letter From Cory Maye | The Agitator […]

  18. #18 |  Paul | 

    I’ve said everything I need to say about Corey Maye on Reason’s website, so here I’d just like to thank Radley Balko for his tireless work and reporting on the case of Corey Maye.

    Thanks for all your work, Mr. Balko, and keep it up.

  19. #19 |  An Open Letter From Cory Maye | Daily Libertarian | 

    […] Balko has published a note from the soon-to-be-free former death row inmate Cory Maye. Here’s a […]

  20. #20 |  Bronwyn | 

    Cory, you have my love. You are a good man, full of love and hope and spirit. I am proud to be able to count myself as your friend. If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll send my phone number along to you via Radley.

    Maybe we can meet when I travel south this September?

  21. #21 |  Andrew S. | 

    Damn, it’s dusty in here.

    I hate that you had to take a plea, Cory, but I think any of us would’ve taken the deal were we in your shoes. I wish you success in whatever you dream of in life. You deserve it.

  22. #22 |  JS | 

    I’m stunned and happy for him and not being condescending or anything but I’m proud of Radley. Greenwald’s cheering him on twitter as well.

  23. #23 |  Michael Chaney | 

    I want to echo comments that I and others made in a previous thread, and they’re perhaps a little contrarian. Ron Jones was not, in my opinion, “innocent”. He chose to use a vile racist as an “informant” and he chose to kick doors in based on the word of the racist. He had no search warrant for Maye’s apartment, meaning that he was breaking in illegally. He paid with his life for these conscious decisions and possibly some mistakes (it is possible that he didn’t know Maye’s apartment was separate, but, sorry, if you’re going to destroy people’s lives maybe you ought to do 10 minutes of homework first). I would be pretty surprised if this was the first time he’d done that.

    So, I’m sorry to Ron Jones’ family, but I have no sympathy for Jones. He made poor decisions, and those poor decisions had consequences. I’m sorry that his family got to see in his death what he really was and what he did in his job. Hopefully they’re smart enough to know that it wasn’t Maye’s fault that Jones chose to illegally kick his door in that night.

  24. #24 |  BSK | 

    Kudos to you, Radley, and all the people who worked on behalf of Cory. And congratulations for Cory for remaining vigilant and brave through all that he faced and for showing his humanity in the face of injustice. It would have been easy for him to cave and it is a testament to him that he didn’t.

  25. #25 |  BamBam | 

    @23 many beers and cheers to you for stating the truth in simple terms that any literate person should agree with. Cops need to have consequences for their mistakes, financially and otherwise, when denying people liberty and they did not perform due diligence.

  26. #26 |  Donald | 

    #23 I agree. He broke into the mans home to violently enforce the preferences of a bunch a jackballs that won a popularity contest, and got the wrong place. Has none of my sympathy.

  27. #27 |  TC | 


    Yeah like you will get a chance to read this, don’t really matter.

    You have done well, even if the fellow you shot in defense of yourself and your child happened to be one of the few good cops. That’s just not right, for either of you. I’m sorry for his death, I’m sorry they used such asinine tactics upon you and your family, especially when the other side of the house was the intended target.

    There is no fault in your actions! All of us capable would react exactly the same way to protect our family!

    I wish you well in getting back into what the world is today. Not too much has changed. But I hope we managed to take care of enough of it for you to enjoy your corner of it, with your family beside you!

    This is truly a good news day for us as well!

  28. #28 |  Rojo | 

    A very hearty congrats to Cory and best wishes to reclaiming his life. And an equally hearty pat on the back to Radley and everyone else that worked on his release. You did great work here, Balko.

    This leftist libertarian thinks many of your economic ideas are disagreeable and even nutty (although I do think you get them by yourself and not spoon-fed by a Koch or something–Talk to the hand, Cole!), but when it comes to the work you do on our criminal (in)justice system, the drug war, et alii, you’re one of the most valuable journalists we have at the moment.

  29. #29 |  mtc | 

    Gives you a little faith in the world…best of luck to Cory, and massive props to Radley. Most days The Agitator is as about as depressing as websites come, but the rare days like today redeem all the others. Keep it up bud!

  30. #30 |  DocHoliday916 | 

    Welcome Home!

  31. #31 |  donttread | 

    Kudos to Radley and those who have worked for Cory’s release. It must be a great feeling to know you have saved the life of an innocent man. Best wishes also to Cory, I’m sure he will enjoy his new freedom.

  32. #32 |  Dr. Gonzo | 

    Wow, this man is first class, all the way. I can only pray I would be as classy as he is if I walked in his shoes for the last ten years.

  33. #33 |  Marty | 

    I’m so happy for everyone involved in this ordeal.

  34. #34 |  josh r | 

    Yes, I am anxious to send off my greenbacks…is there a fund in the works?

  35. #35 |  Billy Beck | 

    I think that photograph is priceless.

    Good for you, Radley. Really, man. Good for Cory.

    That’s all I can say. Welling with tears.

  36. #36 |  Two--Four | 

    […] charge, and sentenced essentially to time served. He could be out of prison in a very short time. Balko has published a letter from Maye, and you should go read it for an example of a gracious soul and […]

  37. #37 |  Gus S. Calabrese | 

    Thanks for making the world a better place …………

  38. #38 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Wow. Mr. Maye is showing tremendous humanity and mercy. Drug warriors could learn a lot from him.

  39. #39 |  Richard Nikoley | 

    Fabulous. Man, 9 1/2 years.

    Gotta say that I really loath the sympathy for the thug who justly got exactly what was not only coming to him, but absolutely _should_ have come to him.

    The true miscarriage of justice here is that it was a complete _reversal_. Jones was lauded a hero and Maye sentenced to death, when in actuality, the one who should have been sentenced to death _was_ and the sentence and execution had been carried out.

    And Maye should have been lauded a hero who stood up for his own life and that of his daughter with righteous deadly force. At least commenter #23 gets it.

  40. #40 |  glasnost | 

    I’m happy for Cory Maye, and I have to admit, glad R.B. is around.

  41. #41 |  jb | 

    No winners in any of this, but Maye was able to survive, not in any small measure due to Balko’s tireless efforts.

    If any good were to come of this, the home-invasion drug no-knocks would be declared illegal. What rational human being would not react precisely as did Maye? One minute you are living your life, the next you are a murderer?

    Jones, even if a good guy prior to what happened, paid with his life for a very bad choice of actions. What sucks beyond measure is that Cory Maye, through no fault of his own, has a 10 year hole in his and his family’s life, and the sad knowledge that he unwillingly had to take a human life.

    Unfortunately, the no-knock raids continue unabated. The mentality that spawns them is what rules cop shops, and it will take much before it is brought to an end.

    Balko—good job. You stayed the course, and it worked out as you had hoped it would. An innocent man at least will be free, even if the legal system is still so dumb-ass stupid as to call him a criminal. It is the legal system that is criminal and it knows it. It’s collective cowardice is shown in its refusal to declare the man innocent. It would be admitting what has been the case all along . . .

    It was wrong. And they know it.

  42. #42 |  taylor | 

    damn cuz its been a long time coming. man i cant wait to touchdown back home and come kick it with u. my daddy called me the other day and told me that u were going to be released. man its been so long. u just dont know how bad i thought i was gonna get a chance to see u when i brought your mama and bro to see u that time. its all go tho it was just a matter of time before something had to shake. u missed out on a lot man im just glad u didnt miss out on everything. cant wait to see cuz. BF

  43. #43 |  Barbara Peyton | 

    GOD is good!! He put the right people in COREY path to make sure that his prayers would be answered. I know the time he was away cannot be replaced but he has a chance to start now with his children and family.He has the chance to be a father,son,brother,uncle,cousin and friend!I am so excited for COREY all i can say is thank you Lord for giving COREY a chance at life!!!MR. BOB EVANS you are a blessing!!!!Please support Mr. Evans for upcoming ELECTION!!

  44. #44 |  CyniCAl | 

    “It must be an incredible burden to know you’ve taken another man’s life, that you’ve caused a pain and sense of loss for all the people who knew and loved that person, and that for them, that pain and loss are permanent.”

    I’m sure you understood this before Radley. Most people do. It’s rather fortunate that the vast majority of people can go their entire lives without having to experience this directly. And it is a strong argument in favor of pacifism, to avoid taking human life at all costs, even the cost of one’s own life — but that is a decision each individual must make on one’s own.

    Cory Maye’s story should be made into a documentary film, it is a powerful testament to the mutual destructiveness of the modern police state.

  45. #45 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Tim Masters, Anthony Graves, and Cory Maye Each Receive Some Semblance of Justice | 

    […] cops shooting non-cops by mistake is extremely frustrating but this is the world we live in. From a letter Maye provided Radley Balko to share with his supporters Maye explains: I realize a lot of people are going to wonder why I […]

  46. #46 |  Cory Maye — Politics, Guns & Beer | 

    […] A Letter from Cory Maye. […]

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    […] RT @radleybalko (Radley Balko) – Letter from Cory Maye […]