Innocent Man Pardoned After 24 Years In Prison For A Murder He Never Committed At Just 19 Years Old

Innocent Man Pardoned After 24 Years In Prison For A Murder He Never Committed At Just 19 Years Old

Montoyae Dontae Sharpe was given a life sentence for the first-degree murder of a 33-year-old man named George Radcliffe.

Yet another innocent man was wrongly convicted for a murder he never committed. Montoyae Dontae Sharpe was just 19 years old when he was sent to prison in 1995 for the murder of 33-year-old George Radcliffe.  Radcliffe was found shot in his pickup truck a year prior, according to The New York Times. A 15-year-old girl named Charlene Johnson testified that she saw Sharpe shoot Radcliffe in an argument over drugs. But weeks later, she took back her testimony. It seems she had “entirely made up” her testimony which led to Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina granting a pardon for Sharpe. “It’s been a long time coming,” Sharpe, now 46 years old, said in an interview on Friday. “My name has been cleared, and me and my family can move on. And I can go on with the next stage of my life, which is to still help other guys behind me.”



Gov. Cooper's pardon will now allow Sharpe to seek compensation for his wrongful conviction where he can seek up to $750,000. “I have carefully reviewed Montoyae Dontae Sharpe’s case and am granting him a Pardon of Innocence,” Gov. Cooper, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Mr. Sharpe and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged.” Sharpe said that what helped him through the dark days of his life was his faith in God, his lawyers, and the pastors who supported him. He also found great strength from his mother, who encouraged him to resist pressure from prosecutors to accept plea deals that could have resulted in his release from prison. “If it weren’t for them, it would have been bad,” Sharpe said. “I would have still been in there, most likely.”



Sharpe has always maintained his innocence and back in a 2019 interview, he mentioned why he did not take a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Sharpe shared at the time, “My faith, knowing I was innocent and the way I was raised. My momma always told me if you didn’t do something, don’t own up to it. Don’t say you did it.” He added that his faith provided the “positivity to help me when I was around all that negativity.”



The Rev. William Barber who was president of the state chapter of the NAACP at the time Sharpe's case was taken, pointed out that racism and poverty had a part to play in the wrongful conviction of an innocent man. “It was the racism within the system that said basically, any black man will do,” said Barber who added that Sharpe’s family couldn’t afford the “powerhouse attorney” needed to fight the charge.



After he heard the news of his newfound freedom, Sharpe told reporters, "I haven't soaked it in yet. It was a surprise," according to The Charlotte Observer. "Now my family's name has been cleared, it lifts a burden off my shoulders. My freedom ain't still complete," he added. "Know that our system is corrupt and needs to be changed … I'm thankful that I got mine and thankful that other guys are gonna get theirs. That's what's important now."