Apr 27, 2010

Thomas Hagan (l.) is treated at Jewish Memorial Hospital in 1966 for a gunshot wound after the assassination of Malcolm X (inset).

The man who murdered Malcolm X with a 1965 shotgun blast was released Tuesday from prison.

Thomas Hagan, who turned 69 this month, walked out of the Lincoln Correctional Facility around 11 a.m., said state corrections spokeswoman Linda Foglia.

Hagan was spending two nights a week in the W. 110th St. facility as part of a work release program that he started in 1988 - 23 years after the assassination of Malcolm X inside the Audubon Ballroom.

His bids for parole and full release were rejected 16 times before Hagan was cleared for freedom on March 3. He is now under supervision of the state Division of Parole.

Foglia said Hagan was turned loose one day prior to his tentative release date because all the inmate's paperwork was completed early.

Two years ago, the married father was working in a fast food restaurant.

Hagan - known then as Talmadge Hayer - was arrested within minutes of the brutal slaying as Malcolm addressed about 400 followers in the ballroom at 166th St. and Broadway.

The religious leader's pregnant wife and daughters looked on as Malcolm was gunned down. Hagan was then shot and beaten by outraged members of the audience while trying to flee.

He has been in custody ever since.

Hagan, a one-time militant member of the Nation of Islam, admitted his role in the killing during his 1966 trial.

A decade later, he said the killing was sparked because Malcolm was a "hypocrite" who turned against Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

Hagan was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

Two other men were convicted with him in the killing, although both were paroled more than two decades ago.


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