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Family hopes man behind bars for selling a ‘spoonful of cocaine’ is set free after decades

Sentenced to 60 years in prison for a nonviolent drug crime, a man has paid the price after he sold less than half of an ounce of cocaine to an ex-girlfriend who set him up. Under the three-strike law, he was not given any more chances.

Inmate Michael Edwards is looking forward to the possibility he could be granted clemency. We spoke to some of Edwards’ family members, who have been waiting for a day of justice for their loved one for decades.

On Wednesday, the clemency board met and discussed his case. Governor Ron DeSantis, who sits on the board, noted that Edwards was recently caught with contraband – a cell phone – recently, while in prison.

DeSantis asked for more time to look over that misconduct saying the “release was taken under advisement.”

The family said, according to their attorney, the board should come to a decision in two weeks.

“He deserved to be punished,” said Mimi Edwards Beach, Edwards’ sister. “But to be given two 30-year sentences stacked on top of each other, that’s just extremely harsh.”

Edwards has been incarcerated for 26 years, 11 months and 11 days for selling a spoonful of cocaine, a street value of $850.

“He got locked up for this many years for making a mistake,” Mimi said. “This is an older picture of Michael, but he still looks that good,” Mimi said.

Edwards was 30 when a judge sent him to prison for 60 years, but Edwards had a history of breaking the law.

“They were like, ‘You know what? You haven’t learned your lesson, so I personally think you need to be put away for good,’” Mimi recalled.

Going away for good meant Edwards missing his son, Kingsley Edwards, grow up. Kingsley was only 8-years-old when his father went away. He now lives in Las Vegas.

“Maybe they’ll finally grant him clemency on my birthday and that would be the best birthday present yet,” Kingsley said.

Both Kingsley and Mimi say Edwards did his best to stay in touch.

“Especially this year, there would be times that he would call me, and I would be kind of down just with all these current things going on in the world,” Kingsley said. “And he would, you know, I would answer the phone, and he would be positive, and it would put me in check. We just can’t wait for him to put that positive mentality to use outside of where he is now.”

“He would send us these neat cards,” Mimi said. “’You’re one of the best sisters in the world. Hope you had a good time on your birthday. Wish I could be there celebrating with you. Maybe next year.’”

Even when the clemency board would turn his plea for freedom down, Edwards stayed positive and claims to have become a model prisoner.

“We have been struggling to make this day happen for a long time,” Edwards said.

This time, Edwards has a new ally, the guy who put him away all those years ago.

“I convicted people with shrimp boats with loads and loads of marijuana, and they didn’t have anything like that,” said Joseph D’Alessandro, the state attorney at the time of Edwards’ conviction.

D’Alessandro believes in the legal system and believes it works, but he thinks it didn’t work in the Michael Edwards case.

“No. I didn’t think he would serve all that time,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s time for him to get out.”

Mimi has her fingers crossed ahead of her brother’s hearing. She told us her brother is hopeful but not getting his hopes up that tomorrow’s hearing will go his way. But she’s confident her brother will soon join the family business.

“He’s more of the dreamer, hence the name Dream Pools and Spas,” Mimi said. “And I’m the more practical person, so I think between the two of us as, a brother and sister team, it’s going to be very advantageous for the both of us.”

In addition to D’Allessandro’s support for Edwards, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who sits on the clemency board, supports Michael Edwards’ release. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody are also on the clemency board.

The board should come to a decision in two weeks.

Correction: The original version of this article misstated Gov. DeSantis and the attorney general’s public stance on Edwards’ petition for clemency.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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