Two of the three men convicted of 1965 killing civil rights leader Malcolm X will soon be exonerated, Manhattan's district attorney announced Wednesday.
After a 22-month investigation, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. found that authorities withheld evidence in the trial of Muhammad A. Aziz, 83, and the late Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, the New York Times reported. Both men spent over two decades in prison for a crime they vowed they did not commit.
Malcolm X, who was born Malcolm Little, was killed while giving a speech at New York's Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965. Aziz, Islam, and another man, Thomas Hagan, were convicted for the murder, but Aziz and Islam maintained their innocence.
However, Vance's investigation found that key physical evidence and documents were lost over the years, the murder weapons could no longer be tested, and many witnesses, investigators, and potential suspects have since died, the Times reported. FBI documents implicated other suspects and "pointed away" from Islam and Aziz, the report said.
"This points to the truth that law enforcement over history has often failed to live up to its responsibilities," Vance told the publication. "These men did not get the justice that they deserved."