JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
The Associated Press
HONOLULU — Sex trafficking charges in Hawaii were dismissed Tuesday against a former death row inmate from Delaware, allowing him to walk out of court a free man again.
U.S. prosecutors dropped a 10-count indictment against Isaiah McCoy, who represented himself in the case. A judge approved the dismissal, and McCoy walked out of court after being held without bail in Honolulu Federal Detention Center since January.
Prosecutors moved to dismiss the case because of information they “became aware of in the past several days,” said a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Hawaii.
The release didn’t elaborate on why the office dropped the indictment.
After Tuesday’s hearing, McCoy spoke to The Associated Press from the downtown Honolulu office of his court-appointed standby attorney, Gary Singh.
“I’m free,” McCoy said. “It was unjustified and unwarranted in the first place,” he said of the indictment.
McCoy said he plans to relax and continue being an activist against wrongful convictions. He’s also planning to write a book, he said.
McCoy was sentenced to death after a jury found him guilty of murder in Delaware. A judge found him not guilty at a retrial.
Less than a year after his release from death row, he was arrested and charged with sex trafficking. Prosecutors say he forced, threatened and coerced young women into prostitution in Hawaii.
While awaiting trial, McCoy told the AP earlier this year at the detention center that he moved to Hawaii after he was invited to speak at a criminal justice reform rally.
He said he worked as a security guard for a Waikiki hotel in an area of the tourist mecca known for prostitution and started dating a woman who he says worked as a stripper and prostitute. He could relate to her, and she wasn’t judgmental about his time behind bars. They eventually had a falling out, he said.
The woman was one of the alleged victims in the indictment against him, he said.
“All of these females were prostitutes before I met them,” McCoy said. “Why would I have to force someone to do what they’re already doing?”
McCoy’s Army soldier wife, Tawana Roberts, was a co-defendant in the case. They wed six days after meeting at a Honolulu nightclub, he said. The count in the indictment against her was previously dismissed.
“Despite today’s dismissal, this office will continue the important work of investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes in Hawaii,” Kenji Price, the U.S. attorney for Hawaii, said in a statement.