Family wants 70-year-old Alice Johnson co-conspirator released after COVID-19 diagnosis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been two years since Alice Marie Johnson was famously granted clemency and released from prison, but now the family of one of her co-conspirators feel he should be released as well.

Curtis McDonald is 70 years old. His family maintains he had no prior criminal record when he was sentence to life in prison 23 years ago.

Friday evening, they took to the streets downtown calling for his release.

“We’re not going to allow him to die in prison. We’re gonna do all we can to get him out,” said McDonald’s brother Darryl McDonald.

McDonald’s niece, Melody Martin, has been pushing for his release since she was just a teenager.

She’s lobbied public leaders and most recently filed a compassionate release request, which was ultimately denied. It came the same month she says her uncle was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“You get so close, you get your hopes built up and nothing. Another denial, another denial. Another ‘no,’ another denial,” said Martin.

Family members say they chose to march on Juneteenth since it’s a day that symbolizes freedom.

They say they’re hopeful President Trump will hear their pleas and intervene as he did in Johnson’s case.

“He’s never got caught with anything, never killed anybody, didn’t have a prior arrest at all, but he’s doing five life sentences,” said McDonald’s nephew Ernest Palmer.

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