This is the moment an inmate championed by Kim Kardashian walked free after 23 years behind bars following his conviction for murder when he was just 16.
Momolu Stewart, 39, was found guilty of murder in 1999 but had his life sentence reduced to time served plus three days by a Washington DC judge on Friday.
He had made headlines after meeting the reality star while she was filming a documentary on criminal justice reform just months earlier.
Footage showed Stewart leaving DC Central Detention Facility to be greeted by family and friends.
Prison reform champion Kim met with him in July when she went to the District Of Columbia Correctional Treatment Facility to learn about the Georgetown Prison Scholars program. She later wrote a letter of support for Stewart to use during his bid for re-sentencing.
He told Oxygen Monday: ‘I was buried alive. So now, I’ve been resurrected. I’m back and I’m better.’
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Momolu Stewart was released just months after making headlines for meeting Kim Kardashian while she was filming a documentary on criminal justice reform. Stewart, 39, was convicted of murder in 1999 but had his life sentence reduced to time served plus three days on Friday
Footage showed Stewart leaving DC Central Detention Facility greeted by family and friends
Reality star Kim met with Stewart in July when she went to the District Of Columbia Correctional Treatment Facility to learn about the Georgetown Prison Scholars program
Kim, who was filming her upcoming documentary, Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project, met one-on-one with Stewart, who posted a picture of them together on his Instagram.
He captioned the image: ‘Making power moves from the inside with my sister @kimkardashian. My next move is even bigger, and I’m thinking five steps ahead.’
Kim posed alongside him in a black top and joggers with a smile on her face.
After their meeting, Kardashian wrote a letter of support for Stewart to use during his bid for re-sentencing.
‘While incarcerated Momolu, in an attempt to somehow turn his life around, even though the rest of his natural life would seemingly be spent in prison took classes, including Dr. Howard’s Georgetown Prisoner’s Scholars program,’ Kardashian wrote, according to Oxygen.
She added: ‘He helped set up programs to help other prisoners. He took every opportunity to re-imagine his life while staying completely out of trouble.’
Kim noted that when Stewart was six, his mother had killed his father and that he ‘turned to the streets for guidance.’
Stewart’s case will be featured in Kardashian’s two-hour documentary special, slated to air in Spring 2020.
He had served nearly 23 years in prison after being convicted, alongside Kareem McCraney, of the fatal shooting of Mark Rosebure, 23, on New Year’s Day 1997.
He said after his release Monday he would ‘appreciate the things that was taken away from me when I was such a young man’, adding: ‘You know, just smell the trees, just live life, and honor life.’
His stepfather Ronald Smith said: ‘It’s been a beautiful transformation. I’ve seen him come from a troubled, emotional youth to a secure, mature man.’
During her visit, Kardashian spoke with the inmates and took selfies with them. She was filming her upcoming documentary, Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project
Kim went to the District Of Columbia Correctional Treatment Facility to learn about the Georgetown Prison Scholars program where she met Momolu Stewart
Kim spoke with inmates and after their meeting, Kardashian wrote a letter of support for Stewart to use during his bid for re-sentencing
President Donald Trump, right, listens as Kim Kardashian West speaks about a second chance hiring and re-entry initiative at an event in the East Room of the White House in June
A jury found Stewart and McCraney, who had a joint trial, guilty of first-degree premeditated murder while armed, second-degree murder while armed and two counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, alongside other weapons offenses.
During his more than two decades in prison, Stewart was said to have gotten a GED, and received college credits through coursework in Georgetown Prison Scholars program. He has also been dedicated to mentoring others.
Judge Robert Salerno told Stewart Friday that ‘You seem to have some talents and gifts sir,’ according to Oxygen.com.
He also told Stewart that he should continue his education and work on helping to rehabilitate others, noting that there wasn’t much else that Stewart could do to rehabilitate ‘except more of the same.’
As part of his release, expected to come next week, the judge said Stewart would need to find and maintain a job, as well as comply with other requirements deemed necessary by the probation office, which could include spot drug testing and GPS monitoring.
Stewart’s release comes as the result of the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act, a Washington DC law, which makes it possible for people convicted of violent crimes as minors to petition for release after 15 years in prison, according to Fox 5 DC.
Family members and victims – including the victim of a second crime Stewart committed in the late 90s, involving an assault with a dangerous weapon – were said to have had the chance to speak or provide statements during his sentence reduction court proceedings. But none were provided, according to Oxygen.
Victim Rosebure’s sister, Joyce Bagley, told Fox 5 that she decided not to speak at Stewart’s hearings because ‘What’s the difference? They’re still going [to] let them out regardless of what you say.’
She also said: ‘The judge gave you a sentence, you should continue with your sentence. But that’s the new law.’
The law was passed in 2016 and revised in 2019.
Joyce Bagley, left, the sister of the man Stewart was convicted of fatally shooting, Mark Rosebure, right, said she did not speak at Stewart’s hearings because she knew he would be released due to Washington DC’s Reduction Amendment Act
McCraney, who had a joint trial with Stewart and was also convicted of murder, was released from prison under the sentence reduction act in 2018.
He told Oxygen that Stewart, ‘Basically [he was] for all intents and purposes being left to really fend for himself and really build himself up as an individual at a time when he should’ve been nurtured and loved.
‘And so, he found that, just as many of us did, amongst each other out in the streets,’ McCraney said.
McCraney, who is now a program analyst for the DC Corrections Information Council and showed up at Stewart’s hearing, also said that Stewart was not the same person that he was as a teen.
Kardashian has been championing prison reform in recent years, following her success with convincing President Trump to commute the life sentence of nonviolent drug offender Alice Marie Johnson in June 2018.
Johnson had been convicted on charges of attempted possession of cocaine and conspiracy to possess cocaine and already served 21 years of her life sentence when she was released.
Kardashian is working on freeing Kevin Keith, a convicted murderer, and also advocated for the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, who had been imprisoned in Sweden following a street fight.
In April, the mother-of-four revealed that she wants to become a lawyer and is supposedly in the midst of a four-year apprenticeship with a San Francisco law firm. She is expected to take the California Bar exam in 2022.