A District of Columbia man, who has spent 22 years in prison after being convicted of a murder when he was 16 and who caught the attention and support of TV reality star Kim Kardashian West, was ordered released from prison Friday under the city's new law that calls for the re-examination of prison sentences for inmates who have spent at least 15 years in prison for crimes they committed when they were juveniles.

During a brief hearing Friday, District Superior Court Judge Robert Salerno granted the petition to reduce the life sentence of 39-year-old Momolu Stewart to time served, allowing Stewart to be released from prison as early as next week.

Since Stewart and his attorney, Betsy Henthorne, filed their petition earlier this year requesting Stewart's life sentence be reduced, Salerno has had multiple hearings to hear from Stewart, prosecutors and attorneys.

Last month, Salerno said he would grant Stewart's request, but set a hearing for Friday to allow the victims and the families of the victims in Stewart's case a chance to speak. None of Stewart's victims attended the hearing.

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More than 20 inmates, including Stewart, have had their petition decided under a 2017 law called the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act. The district law allows inmates who committed their crimes when they were younger than 18 and spent at least 15 years in prison a chance to have their sentences cut. Under the law, they must show signs of rehabilitation behind bars.

Studies have shown that the brains of teenagers and young adults are not fully mature, and the idea behind the legislation is that those who offend at younger ages should not receive adult punishments of decades in prison.

So far, 19 inmates have been released under time served. Federal prosecutors in the district have repeatedly argued against any of the inmates being released under time served.

Kardashian-West met Stewart over the summer when she was in Washington touring a district jail. She was introduced to Stewart and after talking with him for more than an hour, she agreed to write a letter to the judge calling for Stewart's release. More than 40 letters, including the one from the TV reality star, were submitted on behalf of Stewart.

President Donald Trump meets with Kim Kardashion to discuss prison reform in the Oval Office at the White House in May 2018. Photo / Supplied
President Donald Trump meets with Kim Kardashion to discuss prison reform in the Oval Office at the White House in May 2018. Photo / Supplied

It was New Year's Day 1997 when Stewart and another teenager confronted Mark Rosebure, 22, at an apartment building in Washington in connection with a robbery. Both teens were armed. When Rosebure made a gesture to his waistband, the teens shot Rosebure multiple times. He was unarmed.

Stewart and the teen said Rosebure had robbed them earlier and they were confronting him about that. Prosecutors, however, said Stewart and the other teen had tried to rob Rosebure when he was killed.

In addition to showing remorse for the killing, Stewart earned his GED in 2009 and racked up 1400 hours of educational programmes including behaviour modification, anger management and African studies and has become a mentor to troubled youth.