In Tyree's Words
On October 27, 1997 the owner of the Salt and Pepper deli Mr. John Young Su Kang was robbed shot
and killed. Our community and my life was forever changed by that horrific chain of events. Mr. John
Young Su Kang was a pillar of our community. He was a leader, he was generous, and he was the last
person that should have had his life cut short, as it was. As a child, my mother would send me to Mr.
Johns deli without the necessary funds to purchase the food we were requesting. She and I both knew
that Mr John would not allow us to be hungry, because that was who he was as a man. Mr. John on
multiple instances stopped me from being bullied, even though his store was only two blocks away from
my home it was located in a rival territory. Mr. John had a positive influence on the entirety of our
community and to this day I am thankful for his impact. His tragic death has had long lasting
reverberations on our community and my life. I cannot begin to imagine the hurt, the loss, and the
despair that Mr. Johns family must be experiencing. Everyday for twenty two years I have empathized
for their loss. And I pray that time has effected positively the grief of their loss of a father, husband, son,
and leader. I too acknowledge, that this tragedy has been compounded by my family losing me with the
absolute knowledge that I have been wrongfully convicted. There is no way that I would ever have any
involvement with anything that cast a bad light, disrespected, or hurt Mr. John Young Su Kang in any
way. Mr. John at different times in my life was a role model , a mentor, and a protector. And I in turn am
protective of his legacy. It is impossible for me to fully articulate how it feels to serve twenty two years,
labeled as the murderer of a man I admired, how it feels to watch my mother and father die from
prison, and how it feels to know that the perpetrators of this heinous act are walking free. It is also
impossible for me to accurately relay what took place that night, as I was not there. I do acknowledge
and understand that the unproductive lifestyle that I lived as a teenager contributed to this outcome. If I
had been living up to the promise of my potential, by being enrolled in school, working full time, or
contributing positively to society, I would likely not have been wrongfully convicted and the tragedy of
Mr. Kangs death may not have been compounded. Mr. Kangs family and our community truly lost a
giant on that horrific night. I will forever be sorry for their loss and I pray that they continue to heal.
The investigation into Mr. Kang's death focused on three men, including Mr. Wallace, and led to a trial in which Mr. Wallace was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. This conviction was entirely based on the testimony of three questionable witnesses, and lacked any physical evidence.
Recent investigation by the Innocence Project, who currently represent Tyree, proves that the evidence provided by all three witnesses – the entire basis of Mr. Wallace's conviction – was the result of police intimidation and coercion. The investigators' promises of avoided punishment for the witnesses' respective crimes led directly to their testimony. Two witnesses have since admitted their testimony was untruthful and resulted from coercive police practices; one even asked a sheriff directly after his testimony about the penalty for perjury because he had lied when accusing Tyree. The sheriff testified to this fact. Further, the statements of the third witness – central to the Prosecution's case – has been falsified by four new witnesses and has revealed the main witness's involvement in the crime. Finally, a polygraph examination has unequivocally shown Mr. Wallace's innocence, with the expert examiner determining that Tyree could "Reasonably be excluded as a suspect."
The facts of the Innocence Project investigation, when paired with the successful polygraph test, reveal malpractice by the police and Tyree's innocence in the murder of one of his role models, Mr. Kang. Yet, In the face of such injustice, and with every right to be bitter, Tyree has maintained a truly admirable, exemplary level of grace and perseverance. Tyree should be serving as a role model from his own community, not from a jail cell. For more on his sustained successes while incarcerated, click here.