One-on-one with Crosley Green: Death row inmate freed but now facing re-incarceration
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A man who spent over three decades behind bars, including nearly two decades on death row, is grappling with the fact that he may have to go back to prison after two years free.
Right now, Crosley Green is out of prison under the supervision of the federal probation department.
He said he did feel joy when he was first told he was going free.
"But it wasn’t the type of joy where you jump up and scream, you know?" Green explained. It was that join that, ‘Man, I finally got my wish.’"
But everything had happened so fast, and he’d spent so much time behind bars, he felt some reservations too.
"It was a hurting thing for a few guys, because I didn’t want to leave them like that without having a goodbye," he said of his fellow inmates.
Green says that his first three years behind bars were difficult. He was angry. He’s maintained his innocence since the day he was first accused in 1989.
But he says a friend he met in prison helped him let go of that anger by encouraging him to keep his mind occupied and remain positive, always turning to his faith when he needed it. He’s Christian, and his friend was Muslim. Their differences in that respect didn’t matter.
"After three years, everything just vanished. Evilness, hatred. Everything just vanished from me."
Now, he won’t let go of that positivity. He keeps it even through the thought that he may have his freedom stripped from him yet again.
But he says he doesn’t think about that much. He’s concentrating on the thought of being free, along with his family and his hopes for them.
"You see me here. I’m here now, I don’t know if I’ll be here long. Whatever. But I need y’all to keep moving forward. If you can keep moving forward, things will be okay. That’s what it’s been like – it’s been wonderful. I’d hate to miss it. I don’t want to miss it. I want to continue to have my freedom and watch them grow."
In 2018, a federal district court said Green had been wrongfully convicted.
Keith Harrison is one of the lawyers defending Green. He explained, the team’s argument that convinced a judge to set him free hinged on documents that were never handed over to his lawyers back in 1990. Those included notes from the officers who responded to the scene.
"We’ve argued that the prosecutor had a constitutional duty to turn over those notes, because they’re what’s known as exculpatory evidence."
Within those notes is a line where two officers reported that after reviewing the evidence, they think the murder Green is accused of was actually committed by the victim’s girlfriend.
"They withheld those notes," said Harrison. "They would’ve had a seismic impact on the trial. As a result, Mr. Green was convicted for a crime he never committed. He spent 19 years on Death Row, 32 years in prison altogether, and may have to return to prison now."
Harrison also pointed out that the story told by the woman who accused Green changed multiple times throughout the court proceedings. Her initially description of the killer also didn’t fit Green, though she chose him from a lineup.
"He went to trial and was convicted, despite the fact that there was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime," said Harrison.
Now, Green has been out of jail for two years, enjoying time with his family, getting closer with his co-workers.
But Florida’s 11th circuit overturned the ruling that let him out on parole, arguing that note couldn’t have been shown in court anyway.
"But if they’d had those notes," Harrison explained, "that would’ve been a road map to their defense. They would’ve put those cops on the stand, and those cops would’ve told the jury why they concluded that Mr. Green was innocent."
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up Green’s appeal.
So now, unless there’s some sort of intervention, Green will go back behind bars.
His lawyers only have two avenues left to try out: appealing to the parole board, or convincing Governor Ron DeSantis to grant him clemency.
"I’m not a criminal. I’m an innocent man. I’d like to have my freedom," Green responded when asked what he’d say if Governor DeSantis were listening. "I’d love to have him take a look at [my case], and hopefully he’ll make the right decision of letting me stay free."
If he does go back, he says,
"I won’t change. I won’t have no bad feelings, I won’t have no hatred. None of that. I’ll still be who I am right now, talking to you."