After Two Years of Freedom, Crosley Green Is Ordered Back to Prison for Life

From a Washington Post story by Brittany Shammas and Angela M. Hill headlined “After two years of freedom, a man is ordered back to prison for life”:

Crosley Green has had two years outside of prison walls. Two years of having cookouts with family, going to church on Sundays and dreaming of staying free for the rest of his life.

That seems to be all the time he’ll get. The 65-year-old Titusville, Fla., man, whose 1990 murder conviction was vacated in 2018 before being reinstated after the state’s appeal in 2022, must surrender himself to the Florida Department of Corrections by April 17, a judge ruled this week. U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton of the Middle District of Florida wrote that Green, having run out of appeals, will have to complete the remainder of his sentence: life behind bars.

Green, who has clung to his faith and remained optimistic despite the looming possibility of returning to prison, said of the court’s decision, “If it wasn’t for the Lord, I’d be down and out right now. I have so much faith and trust and belief, it’s hard for me to let my guard down.”

In a video shared by his attorneys, Green said of his time out, “I saw a lot, and I did a lot. There’s a lot more I’d like to do, but you know, in reality one day I’m going to get to do it. Right now I’m going to abide by the rules, abide by what was set forth.”

Green has long denied involvement in the killing of 21-year-old Charles “Chip” Flynn Jr. No physical evidence linked him to the crime, in which the victim’s ex-girlfriend reported that an assailant she described as “a Black guy” kidnapped the two of them and shot Flynn. Green had spent decades in prison, including 19 years on death row, by the time Dalton threw out the verdict of the all-White jury, saying the prosecutor had withheld information suggesting investigators suspected someone else: the ex-girlfriend.

The judge ordered the state to retry Green or release him. But Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) appealed, and Green remained behind bars until 2021, when Dalton released him amid the coronavirus pandemic. A year later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision, finding that the evidence withheld was immaterial to the case.

In January, Green’s legal team with D.C.-based Crowell & Moring appealed to the Supreme Court; the court announced in February that it would not hear the case. Last week the attorneys asked that Dalton allow Green to remain on house arrest for at least 60 days, writing in a brief that he “has been a model citizen.” The judge denied the request, writing in a Monday order that in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, “there is no further lawful basis upon which to continue” Green’s release.

The crime that sent Green to prison happened in the early hours of April 4, 1989. A 19-year-old woman named Kim Hallock told police she and Flynn were sitting in his pickup in a wooded area smoking marijuana and talking about their relationship when a Black man approached the truck wielding a gun. She said the man got into the truck and drove them to an orange grove, where Flynn used his own gun to shoot at the man. He missed, and the man fired back, Hallock said, but she managed to drive off in the truck.

A half-hour after Hallock’s 911 call, Brevard County sheriff’s deputies found Flynn facedown in the grove, his arms tied behind his back. He had died by the time an ambulance arrived 15 minutes later, without revealing anything to police about what had happened.

Green came to the attention of authorities after a police dog led investigators to his sister’s house and two tipsters told officers that a police sketch resembled Green. Hallock pointed at his photo in a lineup of six men. Officers then got a warrant for Green’s arrest. At trial, three witnesses who have since recanted testified that Green had confessed to the shooting. The jury sentenced Green to death by a vote of 8-4; the sentence was converted to life in prison in 2009.

Green had served 28 years when Dalton ruled that then-prosecutor Chris White had not turned over handwritten notes that might have changed the outcome of the case — a violation of Green’s constitutional rights. The notes, in which White documented a conversation with two on-scene investigators, said that they “suspect the girl did it” and that “she changed her story a couple times.”

Dalton’s ruling said it was “difficult to conceive of information more material to the defense and the development of the defense strategy” than the fact the initial investigators thought someone else might be responsible. The 11th Circuit disagreed, writing that concerns over the withheld evidence had already been exhausted at the state court level and that Green had not proved the notes would have changed the outcome of his trial.

Green’s attorneys have said they plan to pursue two remaining routes to getting Green released from prison: parole or clemency. Both appear to be long shots. Clemency is at the discretion of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) but requires the support of two out of three Cabinet members. Moody is one of them.

Still, Green’s legal team has said they aren’t giving up.

“Our team is still working to secure justice and freedom for Crosley,” said attorney Keith Harrison. “The fight will not be over until Crosley is free.”

Brittany Shammas is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2019, she spent eight years writing for newspapers in Florida, including the Miami New Times and the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Angela M. Hill is a senior producer on The Washington Post’s video enterprise team. Before joining The Post, she worked as an investigative journalist for the Scripps Washington Bureau/Newsy and ABC News in New York. She has won multiple Emmy and Peabody Awards, along with a George Polk Award.

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