Man wrongly convicted in rape case now a free man

July 30, 2010 8:38:42 PM PDT
Michael Anthony Green is finally a free man, released from prison after serving 27 years for a crime he didn't commit. And we were with him for his first day of freedom. Green was just 18 years old when he was imprisoned and now he's having to learn how to live again.

It was a meal made with love mixed in with plenty of anticipation. Marie Jackson, 89, wasn't there for the ceremonial walk to freedom, which made this moment so special.

"Aww, you look so good, Michael," she said.

We were there as 45-year-old Michael Anthony Green walked free after 27 years.

"Try to live life really," he said.

And after he had his first meal as a free man.

"Fish and chips," he told us. "No drinking, no drinking."

When he returned to a place he called home once, Green met family members for the first time.

"It's been a long time. It's just weird to be out, period," Green said.

He commented on his first impressions about life on the outside.

"All the new cars," said Green.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office says DNA evidence from the rape for which Green was convicted now proves he wasn't involved. For the two men they say were involved, they can't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.

"That's just the way the ball bounced. They got away," Green said.

Green said he's gotten past his anger a long time ago despite losing so much.

"Just think of the most precious thing being taken away," Green told us.

He does have plans for the future but just wants to revel in a present filled with welcoming arms.

"I feel blessed to get out," said Green.

A moment 27 years in the making

Twenty-seven years after being convicted for a crime he did not commit, Michael Anthony Green is a free man. On Friday afternoon, Green was able to walk into the arms of his friends and family after being released on bond. Green was falsely accused of kidnapping and raping a woman back in 1983.

Green fought for years to clear his name and his persistence paid off Friday.

"That's how I lived, day by day. That's how I lived, trying not to think about my situation," said Green after getting out. "Doing what I did, going to the law, trying to get out."

Convicted by faulty eyewitness identification, Green said he never lost hope and even found a friend in fellow inmate Charles Chatman, who was also exonerated from a rape charge after spending 27 years behind bars.

"We both said we were innocent," said Chatman. "We both worked on our cases in the law library and trying to find some ways to get free and get out of the situation."

The major break for Green came when Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos assigned a task force to look into innocence claims. On Friday, she applauded their work.

"The tragedy in the Green case is not only was an innocent men in prison, but the victim was denied justice, society was denied justice, and the real criminals were free to commit other crimes which they did," said Lykos.

"I'm delighted," said attorney Bob Wicoff. "I pray for days like these for these guys. The sad thing is how many are still in there who will never be able to prove it."

For Green, he says there is anger, but little bitterness. His biggest heartache is that his mother passed away while he was behind bars.

"It's one of the things that kept me really sane in prison," said Green. "That's why I almost went all the way off. When she died, they wouldn't even let me go to her funeral."

The family says the first thing they plan to do is to take Green out to dinner, and then they plan to show him cell phones, flat screen TVs and the Internet -- all things Green hasn't been able to use in the last 27 years. They say they have a lot of catching up to do.

Green's release comes just one week after the release of another wrongfully convicted man. Last Friday, Allen Wayne Porter, 39, was freed on bond after newly uncovered evidence showed that he was innocent of a sexual assault in 1990. He spent 19 years in prison.

In Porter's case, DNA testing six years ago did not link Porter to the crime, but it was not enough to establish his innocence.

Last year, he wrote to Lykos, asking her to review the case. Eventually, testimony from three others involved in the crime cleared him.

As in Green's case, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals still has to make the final ruling on his conviction.

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