Florida man who served three decades behind bars for a crime he says he didn’t commit returned to prison Monday, after spending the past two years building a life outside prison walls.
Since his parole in 2021 amid appeals, Crosley Green, 65, had taken a job at a machine grafting facility, attended church and spent time with his grandchildren. He even fell in love.
“I’ve been with this man for two years,” his fiancee, Kathy Spikes, told CNN. “To not be able to have a 5 o’clock phone call to say, ‘I’m home,’ for me to say, ‘What do you want for dinner,’ that’s what worries me.”
His return to prison it came in about two weeks after U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton ruled that he must surrender to authorities by April 17 to resume his life sentence.
Green turned himself in to the Florida Department of Corrections on Monday at 5 p.m., according to his attorneys. He was accompanied by Spikes, family members and his attorneys Keith Harrison and Jeane Thomas, who represented him pro bono for 15 years.
It was green allowed to leave prison on parole in 2021, about three years after a federal court in Orlando overturned his conviction. The state of Florida appealed that decision and won last year, and Green’s conviction was reinstated. Dalton allowed Green to remain free while he exhausted his legal options. Green’s legal team petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, but in late February, the court declined to hear his case.
“I can’t be mad at anybody,” Green told CNN. “I don’t want anybody else to be mad at anybody. Anger will get you nowhere. I will do (nothing) but harm you. I’m happy. I’m not happy to go back. I have my future wife, I have my friends who came here with me. I have my family.”
Green was convicted in 1989 of the death of 21-year-old Charles Flynn. Green, who is black, was sentenced to death by an all-white jurythen sentenced to life in prison in 2009 on a technicality related to the sentencing phase of his trial.
In 2018, Judge Dalton ruled prosecutors improperly withheld evidence that police at one point suspected someone else was the shooter. But late last year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and reinstated Green’s conviction, saying the withheld evidence was not material to the case.
Green’s only options to stay out of prison now are clemency or parole, according to his legal team.
“We think he’s an outstanding candidate for parole,” Thomas said. “He demonstrated that he has been released under supervision for the past two years. He was an incredibly successful person outwardly with his work, his church and his family.”
Thomas emphasized that clemency is not the same as exoneration. She says it’s just a mechanism by which the state decides someone has spent enough time behind bars to be released.
Since his release, Green has worn an ankle monitor and has been “a model citizen,” according to Thomas.
“For 15 years, I have believed wholeheartedly, 100 percent in our client’s innocence,” Thomas said. “As lawyers, we have to believe that the justice system will do good. We will continue to fight. This is a grave injustice. And we just think that in the end, we’re going to get it right.”
Despite the latest ruling, Green remains optimistic in his fight to prove his innocence. In a statement his lawyers shared with CNN, he said: “For me, it’s just another part of what I’m going through now to get my freedom. This is all.”
He further attributed his perseverance to his faith in comments to CNN.
“If everyone can believe in themselves as I believe in myself, with the Lord, then you can understand and say the things that I can say without letting anything come between you and your belief,” he said.