Memphis man convicted alongside Alice Marie Johnson reconnects with family after being granted clemency

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 9:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis man imprisoned for nearly a quarter of a century is free after President Donald Trump granted him clemency. The president commuted the sentence of 70-year-old Curtis McDonald. The first time, non-violent offender was serving life in prison until family, friends and a celebrity stepped in to help.

For 24 years Curtis McDonald prayed he would get released from prison. On Wednesday, October 21, inside the Memphis Federal Correctional Institution, his prayers were answered.

“I was in the bed, up in the cell about 3 o’clock, and she called me down and I went to the office and they told me you’re free," McDonald told WMC Action News 5. “I fell to my knees and said come get me now! Come get me now!”

McDonald was convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering in 1996. His co-conspirator, Alice Marie Johnson, is the Memphis woman granted clemency by President Trump in 2018 after Kim Kardashian West intervened in her case.

”This is closure to see this day come is one that I’ve been working toward since I came home myself because it was really hard to be totally free knowing someone else on my case was still in there," Johnson told WMC Action News 5.

The White House released a statement: “Mr. McDonald made productive use of his time in prison, completed education courses and has an excellent record of good conduct.”

“We want to thank President Donald Trump," said McDonald’s niece Melody Martin. “President Trump, you’ve done a wonderful, and as my Aunt Mitty said, a marvelous thing.”

McDonald said the first thing he wants to do is take a long, hot bath. He credits his faith for giving him hope that this day would come.

“Free at last! Free at last!” he shouted with loud cheers from family members. “Thank God, free at last!”

Curtis McDonald was the last of 16 suspects indicted in that drug case still in prison. He and Alice Marie Johnson were the only two who got life sentences. President Trump gave Johnson a full pardon in August.

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