Criminal Justice

Prosecutors consider reviewing convictions in Malcolm X's murder after documentary raises questions

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Malcolm X

Malcolm X. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office will conduct a preliminary review of the convictions in the case of Malcolm X’s 1965 murder, a first step in deciding whether to investigate further.

The decision comes as Netflix begins airing a six-part documentary on Friday that suggests two of the men convicted in the assassination could not have been at the scene of the crime. The documentary is called “Who Killed Malcolm X?” The New York Times has coverage.

Malcolm X had broken with the Nation of Islam and softened his views when he was shot and killed, according to a CNN story on the 2010 release of one of the convicted killers. Malcolm X was giving a speech in the Audubon Ballroom in New York when the shots rang out.

The prisoner released in 2010 was the only man who admitted a role in the crime. He was arrested as he fled the ballroom with a magazine from a gun used in the murder. The man has used three names: Talmadge X. Hayer, Thomas Hagan and Mujahid Abdul Halim.

Halim has said the other two men who were convicted—Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Kahlil Islam—did not take part in the crime. They were freed from prison in the 1980s. Islam, formerly known as Thomas 15X Johnson, died in 2009. Aziz, formerly known as Norman 3X Butler, is 81 years old.

Halim filed an affidavit in 1978 saying he was aided by four members of a Nation of Islam mosque in Newark, New Jersey. Civil rights lawyer William Kunstler tried to reopen the case but did not succeed.

Aziz is currently represented by the Innocence project and lawyer David Shanies, who told the New York Times the lawyers are working with prosecutors “to see that justice is done.” They are using FBI documents that were never given to police or prosecutors.

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