You can read Kardashian West’s letter in Stewart’s support here. Stewart’s case is one of the shocking cases to be featured on “Kim Kardashian: The Justice Project,” a two-hour documentary special which airs on Oxygen at 7 p.m. EST Sunday, April 5, 2020. Martin’s story is just one of those featured on the documentary. Also included in the documentary is the story of Alexis Martin, a human trafficking survivor who is serving a 21-year prison sentence in the death of her pimp when she was just 15. Read more about Martin’s story here. Another inmate freed in part by Kardashian’s support, David Sheppard, was also featured on the documentary. He had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a deadly robbery. Read more about him here.
Kardashian has become an advocate of prison reform. She is going to law school, following in the footsteps of her father, Robert Kardashian Sr., who famously represented O.J. Simpson at his 1995 murder trial.
“I really do believe that, if people do a crime, they need to do the time,” Kim Kardashian West told TIME. “But it’s a matter of, what is that fair [amount of] time?”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Momolu Stewart Was Freed from Prison in 2019 After Serving More Than Two Decades Behind Bars
Momolu Stewart was released early from prison after serving 22 years of a life sentence in the death of Mark Rosebure, when Stewart was 16 years old in 1997. Stewart was freed October 7, 2019.
He told Oxygen he planned to “just appreciate the things that was taken away from me when I was such a young man. You know, just smell the trees, just live life, and honor life.”
Stewart, who was 39 at the time of his release, was freed from prison following the passage of the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act passed by the Washington D.C. Council in 2017. The act allows offenders who committed a violent offense prior to their 18th birthday, who have served at least 15 years in prison, a chance to petition a judge for their sentence to be reduced. As of August 22, 2019, 18 people were granted reduced sentences and released through the act, according to DCist.
Stewart was freed after his attorneys filed a petition through the act. Stewart was also supported by more than 40 people, including Kim Kardashian West, according to Esquire.
2. Momolu Stewart Was Convicted for his Role in the Murder of Mark Rosebure When he Was Just 16 Years Old
Momolu Stewart was convicted in 1997 for his involvement in the shooting death of Mark Rosebure. At the time of the shooting, Stewart was just 16 years old. Despite his age, he was tried and convicted as an adult. Stewart was freed early after the Washington D.C. Council passed the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act in 2017. Stewart and his attorneys applied for a reduced sentence. According to Esquire, more than 40 people wrote in support of Stewart, including Kim Kardashian West.
Stewart’s release followed a series of hearings. A D.C. judge set a hearing date allowing victims and family members of the victim to speak before the court. None of the victims attended the hearings, according to The Washington Post.
On New Years Day, 1997, Stewart and another teen confronted Rosebure, 22, at an apartment building in South East D.C. Both Stewart and the other teen were armed. Rosebure made a gesture toward his waistband, and both teens shot Rosebure multiple times. However, Rosebure was unarmed, according to The Washington Post. The teens had said they were confronting Rosebure because he robbed them earlier in the day. But prosecutors said the teens were trying to rob Rosebure. The other teen was also released from prison.
3. Momolu Stewart’s Mom Killed His Dad When Stewart Was 6, According to a Letter Kim Kardashian West Wrote in his Support
Kim Kardashian West wrote a letter to a judge asking that Momolu Stewart be released early from prison. You can read the letter in full here.
In the letter, Kardashian West wrote about Stewart’s troubled childhood. She said his father was a college professor, and his mom killed his dad when Stewart was only 6 years old “leaving him effectively orphaned and starting a heartbreaking and traumatizing journey, a major turning point in Momolu’s life.”
“Without his father, Momolu turned to the streets for guidance,” Kardashian West wrote.
She went on to write about Stewart’s efforts to turn his life around, even behind bars.
“She has the ability to believe in others when the conventional aspect of things would be to shun ‘em,” Stewart said of Kim Kardashian West, according to Oxygen.
4. Momolu Stewart Is on Probation & Could Be Sent Back to Prison if He Commits Another Crime
Momolu Stewart was released from prison in 2019, following a series of hearings, including one that allowed his victims to speak before the court, The Washington Post reported. None of his victims came forward. Stewart had been sentenced to life in prison in the 1997 shooting death of 22-year-old Mark Rosebure. Stewart was 16 at the time.
Superior Court Judge Robert Salerno suspended Stewart’s sentence, but ordered some stipulations. Stewart is under probation for five years, and if he commits another crime while under probation, he could be ordered to return to prison and serve out his life sentence. He is also required to fulfill other obligations, including getting and keeping a job, according to Oxygen. His stepdad, Ronald Smith, told Oxygen at the time of his release Stewart had already received job offers.
“It’s been a beautiful transformation,” Smith said. “I’ve seen him come from a troubled, emotional youth to a secure, mature man.”
5. Momolu Stewart Showed the Court he Was Reformed by Mentoring Troubled Youths & Education
Momolu Stewart showed in court he had been reformed, which, in part, prompted a judge to grant him an early release through the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act. The Washington Post reported Stewart showed remorse for the 1997 killing of Mark Rosebure. He also completed his GED in 2009, and racked up 1,400 hours of educational programs, including for behavior modification, anger management and African studies. He also became a mentor to troubled youths.
Stewart took college courses through the Georgetown Prison Scholars Program, Oxygen reported. The program’s director, Dr. Marc Howard, told Oxygen that Stewart went through a full transformation.
“Momolu has completely transformed,” Dr. Howard said. “He came into prison over 22 years ago, a traumatized child who was scary and had hurt other people. And now he’s transformed over the past 22 years into a thoughtful, remarkable, wonderful, positive person who has a lot to contribute.”
Stewart’s co-defendant, Kareem McCraney, who was also released, said people should be judged by more than their worst action.
“I think people need to consider that one act or one misstep doesn’t define a person’s whole existence,” McCraney told Oxygen. “You are more than your worst mistake.”