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Bob Ramsey, James Dowd, Thomas SanFilippo, Joe Yeckel

Staff Pick

If Cornell McKay didn't have better lawyers, he'd still be in jail today. His protests of innocence — that he never robbed a woman in the Central West End — would have been ignored. He would be spending the next decade with the thousands of other young black men locked up in Missouri's prisons. McKay was arrested in 2012 during the frenzied search for the person who murdered Megan Boken. Despite his airtight alibi for the killing, St. Louis police fingered McKay for a cell-phone robbery; McKay countered that the police had their wires crossed, that the robbery was actually committed by Boken's killer, to no avail. In 2013, McKay was convicted on robbery charges and sentenced to twelve years. Into this confounding legal fray entered attorneys Bob Ramsey, James Dowd, Thomas SanFilippo and Joe Yeckel. Drawn by their belief in McKay's innocence, the lawyers went about unraveling the case against him. They eventually convinced an appellate judge to vacate the conviction, and when the state's key witness balked at a new trial, the state had no choice but to release McKay. His first act of freedom was taking a selfie with SanFillippo, a fitting tribute to the team of lawyers who believed in him, fought the law — and won
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