If Ricky Malee had taken the plea deal, he'd be out of prison right now, having served just 10 years. Instead, he's 17 years into a 450-year sentence. But he didn't want to confess to a crime he insists he didn't commit, and so "an innocent person is in prison right now." That quote isn't from Malee—it's from one of the two boys whose accusations landed him there. For the Frederick News-Post, Cameron Dodd digs into Malee's case, which rested upon the testimony of two boys—8 and 12 when they testified, 3 and 7 when the abuse allegedly happened—who now say Malee was no abuser. Identified by their middle names, Kyle, now 30, and Eugene, 26, are the children of Hilda Smith, a woman Malee dated in his mid-30s; they all lived together for a time in Maryland.
In July 1996, Malee was arrested after being accused of abusing a female relative (both his trials ended in hung juries), and during that time, Smith's kids were placed in foster care. The boys were split up in November 1997, and Kyle told his new foster mom about the alleged sexual abuse (he eventually accused five adults, with his claims including that his grandparents had videotaped Malee and Hilda Smith abusing them and then buried the tapes). Prosecutor Charlie Smith said Eugene made allegations of his own around the same time. Malee was shocked, having "never been alone with [the boys] for more than a few minutes," writes Dodd. At his July 2001 trial, Hilda Smith similarly testified that it was essentially impossible that Malee could have done anything to her boys. But Kyle and Eugene also took the stand and described sexual acts. Malee was found guilty on 31 counts. Now Kyle says it never happened, and has since 2015 been trying to recant. Read the full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)