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"Amazing": College student from Annapolis helps get childhood friend released from jail

Brandon Harris and Sura Sohna were childhood friends in Annapolis, growing up together at the same elementary and middle schools - but that's where their lives took very different turns. (Davidson College)
Posted at 1:33 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 14:04:05-05

BALTIMORE — Brandon Harris and Sura Sohna were childhood friends in Annapolis, growing up together at the same elementary and middle schools - but that's where their lives took very different turns.

Brandon became a successful college senior, while Sura ended up serving a 14-year jail sentence.

The two stayed in touch, however, and Brandon made Sura's story the centerpiece of a special project at North Carolina's Davidson College.

Sura was ultimately released from jail last week, confirmed Davidson College - and he has Brandon to thank for his advocacy in getting him out of prison.

College spokesperson Jay Pfeifer wrote: "At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sohna was released from prison, about 12 years earlier than expected. Harris was seated in the Annapolis, Maryland, courtroom when the decision was read aloud. The incredible advocacy of Harris, played a significant role in the court’s decision to re-evaluate Sohna’s sentence."

In his independent study project, Brandon details how Sura moved to the troubled Robinwood community off of Forest Drive in Annapolis. A 17-year-old girl who went to school with the boys was killed in June 6, 2016; a few weeks later, a 23-year-old was killed in Robinwood.

"It was devastating," Brandon said in his college presentation, and he says the area has only seen more violence since then.

Brandon got a full scholarship to Indian Creek School, where he was SGA president and competed on two varsity sports teams before going to study philosophy and pre-med at Davidson College.

Sura went to Annapolis High School, but didn't graduate. After seeing a fatal shooting at age 11, being robbed at 14, and watching his brother get abused by police at 13, Sura was using Percocet by 15 and "he just didn't care anymore," recalled Brandon.

Speaking from Patuxent Institution in Jessup at the time of the 2021 presentation, Sura said: "It just felt like either I have to become one of them [criminals] or I'll be eaten."

He was charged as an adult in 2016 for a string of burglaries in Annapolis, and ultimately sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2019 after he escaped and committed more burglaries.

After being released from prison, Sura told ABC News: "I'm thankful and blessed. And I'm glad to have this opportunity."

Brandon had told his friend during the 2021 presentation: "You keep doing what you doing, man. I think a lot is going to come out of this."