Two men freed in Malcolm X’s assassination after new DNA testing links them to crime

Two men imprisoned 25 years ago for fatally shooting Malcolm X were set free Monday after new DNA testing cleared them of the crime.

Attorneys for Hassaan Muhammed and Andrew Branch, both now 53, said their petitions for a new trial were granted Friday, and both men were released from Pennsylvania state prison Monday.

Muhammed, Branch and three other men targeted in the assassination in July 1981 now face a range of crimes, including homicide, conspiracy and lesser charges, according to the New York Times.

“Justice has prevailed, but what’s happened here is only one step in the long process of truth and reconciliation,” Stephen Kelley, an attorney with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, said at a news conference.

In 1981, Muhammed and Branch were among five men arrested in a 1995 homicide at a supermarket in Virginia.

Police linked the two men to the murder, officials said, by examining Branch’s teeth and DNA matches for the profile of one of the store robbers.

The men, who were charged with murder, conspiracy, robbery and related crimes, were convicted in Pennsylvania in 1990 and sentenced to life in prison.

But after new DNA testing, it was shown that the men, along with several others, were not involved in the robbery of the Whole Foods Market in Stonebridge, Virginia. They were cleared and freed in 1995, but the others in the group were exonerated in 2002.

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