A Florida man whose murder conviction was overturned after nearly 32 years in prison may have to go back inside and complete his sentence.
Crosley Green was released in April 2021, three years after a federal judge reversed his 1990 conviction. In March, an appellate court overruled the lower court’s decision, possibly restoring his life sentence.
He was imprisoned for the 1989 kidnapping and slaying of Charles “Chip” Flynn and was initially sent to death row. However, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Judge Roy Dalton ruled in 2018 that Green be released or re-tried because prosecutors withheld evidence pointing to another suspect. The state stalled the release until Green was selected among prison population set free because of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2021.
Green’s defense attorneys are fighting the appeals court decision that would require him to return to prison. They expect a ruling in late May. He also has the support of one of the police officers who responded to the scene and believes Green is innocent.
“In this particular case with Crosley Green, the truth is hidden,” said Diane Clarke, a sergeant with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the murder. “To me that’s travesty of justice. He spent half of his life in prison for something I don’t believe he did.”
Flynn’s ex-girlfriend, Kim Hallock, a white woman, told authorities that Green kidnapped, robbed and drove her and Flynn to an orange grove in Titusville where a shootout ensued. According to reports, Hallock sped off in Flynn’s truck leaving him with a gunshot to the chest. She reportedly passed a hospital, payphones and her home where she lived with her parents and went to see Flynn’s friend, who convinced her to call authorities.
Flynn reportedly refused to tell authorities who shot him before dying. He never asked about Hallock’s status or the investigation.
“I just want to go home,” he reportedly said.
Clarke and her partner said there was no evidence of a shootout or Hallock’s rapid escape. The bullet that was lodged in Flynn’s chest matched the bullets from his own gun. There were no shell casings on the scene or gun residue on Flynn’s hands. Hallock’s was never checked for residue.
The officers told the prosecution they suspected Hallock had committed the crime. Green’s conviction was centered on Hallock’s testimony, and Clarke was never asked to take the stand to testify about her findings, reports show. The prosecution never disclosed the information or produced related notes and photographs.
Dalton ruled in July 2018 that prosecutors violated the Brady rule that requires them to disclose evidence favorable to the defense. However, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March that the federal judge should not have ruled on the Brady disclosure because it had not been reviewed in lower state courts. Green’s attorneys plan to ask a full 11-judge panel to reconsider the March ruling in the appellate court.
Retired Assistant State Attorney Chris White has continuously backed his decision, according to reports. He told Erin Moriarty of “48 Hours” that the evidence does not lead him to believe that Hallock committed the crime.
“I don’t believe I have any duty to say to the defense have you guys thought about this angle and this angle?” White reportedly said in a hearing. “I don’t have this obligation.”
Green’s attorney, Keith Harrison, said White hinted at the theory in his closing arguments at trial.
Green’s legal team told CNN four witnesses had recanted their testimony. Nine additional witnesses confirmed that Green was doing drugs at a party two miles away when the killing occurred, the attorneys said.
According to reports, the prosecution said Green confessed to committing the crime to others. Hallock identified Green in a police lineup, and shoe prints and a police canine connected him to the crime, reports show.
Green’s attorneys argued that his fingerprints were not found at the scene, and they took issue with the method the canine officer used to track the footprints. In addition, they said Green’s picture was darker and more prominent than the others in the photo lineup and was in “bull’s-eye” position. They also argue that Green could not drive Flynn’s stick-shift truck.
“This is a case of actual innocence,” Harrison said during a press conference Wednesday. He also plans to seek Green a new trial.
In March, the three-judge panel found no meaningful inconsistencies in Hallock’s testimony and said Green’s witnesses were not credible. The panel said evidence found in Flynn’s truck “undermines the value” of post-trial DNA evidence. They also could not rule out that hair found in the truck did not belong to Green.
“The analysis revealed that the hair could not have come from 99.58% of the population,” the judicial panel said. “However, Green is a member of the 0.42% of the population from which it could have come.”
(The evidentiary reliability of hair comparison analysis is highly questionable. The FBI itself conducted a study of cases in which its hair analysis experts had offered witness testimony in cases. In announcing its findings in a 2019 release, the agency said, “After reviewing a number of transcripts, the FBI determined that at least 90 percent contained errors.”)
Green is on house arrest as his attorneys fight for him to maintain his freedom. He works at a machine grafting facility and spends most of his off time with family and friends. Green especially cherishes his time with his nieces, nephews, and grandchildren, whom he missed seeing grow up while incarcerated.
“A wrong has been done to me,” Green said as he fought back tears during the press conference. “With the grace of God, I hope it will be straightened. First and foremost, what has happened to me, could happen to you, you, you.”
Green told reporters that he was not holding on to any grudges and remains positive while he awaits the fate of this freedom.
“I hope I can remain free and continue moving forward with my kids, my grandkids, my sisters, my brothers, my work partners at the job I got,” he said.