Kalvin Michael Smith, whose case was featured on Unlocking the Truth, is a free man after nearly 20 years in prison. And MTV host Ryan Ferguson (a former prisoner who spent a decade behind bars for a murder he didn't commit) was by his side during the momentous occasion.
Shortly after the life-changing news broke, Ferguson's co-host Eva Nagao (from the Exoneration Project) tweeted this message:
“On behalf of MTV, we couldn’t be happier to hear that Kalvin Michael Smith was released from prison earlier today," the network said in a statement. "We applaud Ryan Ferguson, Eva Nagao and the producers at Embassy Row on their passionate efforts along with all of Kalvin’s team in creating this wonderful outcome. We wish Kalvin and his family a peaceful and joyful reunion and to new beginnings.”
The 45-year-old was convicted of assaulting sales associate Jill Marker in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with intent to kill. Marker, who was pregnant at the time of the horrific 1995 incident, was beaten so badly that her nearly fatal injuries left her brain dead. Two of Smith's ex-girlfriends (Andra Wilson and Valerie Williams) claimed that Smith told them that he committed the bloody act, and his friend Eugene Littlejohn went as far to say he was with Smith on the night of the crime. Littlejohn's girlfriend Pamela Moore confirmed his story.
But eventually, Moore recanted; Smith, who had passed a polygraph in 1996 when another girlfriend first falsely reported him to the police, insisted a potentially self-implicating statement he made was coerced by police. Regardless, he would spend almost two decades in jail. Enter Unlocking the Truth.
During the course of the MTV series, Ferguson and Nagao meticulously conducted interviews with those closest to Smith and Marker. At the conclusion of the detailed investigation, both felt comfortably "saying conclusively" that Smith was innocent.
Fast-forward to today: Smith is walking out of the penitentiary after a judge ruled his attorney failed to present evidence that would have led to a shorter prison sentence at the time of his conviction.