Lauren Kolenda, Staff Writer

Image sourced from Lauren Kolenda

On Thursday, April 18th, Sister Sheila’s Honors Gospel in Les Miserables class had the opportunity to hear from a few special guests: Leroy Evans, his wife Rosemary, their granddaughter Destini, and Mike Malloy, a criminal defense lawyer who dedicated many years to Leroy’s case.

Leroy Evans was falsely accused of murder in the infamous 1980, when Emily Leo, a woman who was well-known for going door to door to sell Avon products, was brutally murdered in Chester, Pennsylvania by a 17-year-old boy named Anthony Jones. Jones was faced with the death penalty unless he named a co-defendant which led him to tell authorities that Leroy was involved, even though Leroy had nothing to do with the murder. Leroy was 23 years old, married with a 5-year-old son, and served as a mentor to many of the young men in the neighborhood, including Anthony Jones. 

Leroy’s family spent $50,000 on lawyers to defend him in court, but they would not stand a chance against a completely white jury. Leroy was sentenced to life in prison. About 10 years ago, Leroy met a lawyer named Mike Malloy who noticed something special about him and decided to take on his case. He hoped that through his work, Leroy’s true innocence would be recognized by the legal system, and he would get released from prison. Mr. Malloy began to examine the court documents from Leroy’s case and got in contact with Anthony Jones who gave a 96-page confession statement that clearly stated Leroy’s innocence. However, navigating the criminal justice system is an extremely slow and tedious process so it took years to prove Leroy’s innocence. Mr. Malloy and the Evans did not give up and their hard work paid off when Leroy was finally released from prison on September 30, 2022, after 42 years behind bars.

After learning about Leroy’s story, students and guests got a chance to ask Leroy, Mr. Malloy, and Rosemary questions. Leroy shared some amazing stories about his life, including how he met his wife Rosemary and told her he was going to marry her the first time they met. How blessed he feels to be able to raise his granddaughter, Destini, after always wanting a daughter of his own. Everyone in attendance was inspired by Leroy and Rosemary’s evident trust in God, and His plan for them. When asked if he felt any bitterness or resentment towards Anthony Jones or his entire time in prison, Leroy said he did not and explained how he believed that it was part of God’s plan and that he knew that God was and is always with him. Rosemary waited patiently for Leroy and the two talked on the phone multiple times every day. Despite all of the injustice and struggles they faced, God was at the center of their lives. We are so thankful to Leroy, Rosemary, and Mr. Malloy for taking time out of their day to come to share their story with us!