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Crosley Green returning to prison years after Florida murder conviction was overturned

Crosley Green's Hard Time
Crosley Green's Hard Time 43:48

Crosley Green, a 65-year-old Florida grandfather who spent nearly half his life in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit, returned to custody on Monday even though a judge ruled that he'd been wrongfully convicted. He spent his last days of freedom spending time with his fiancée and attending church services. 

Green, who was found guilty of murder in 1990 and sentenced to death, had his conviction overturned in 2018, but his nightmare wasn't over yet. Prosecutors fought the ruling from Judge Roy B. Dalton, which kept Green in prison for several more years. 

Green was granted a provisional release in 2021 after his lawyers cited health concerns during the pandemic. On April 7, 2021, he left Calhoun Correctional Institution outside Tallahassee, Florida. He greeted family members and enjoyed his first taste of freedom: strawberry ice cream. 

But the state of Florida appealed the decision that led to Green's release and won last year. His conviction was reinstated.

"The last two years have been the best years of my life," Green said in a statement provided by his attorney. "I reunited with my family and met my grandkids for the first time. I learned a new job that I really love. I've enjoyed worshiping with my church in Titusville. And I've begun new relationships that have changed my life. I would like to live the years I have left in freedom and peace."

Katherine Spikes hugs fiancé Crosley Green Crowell & Moring/Nerissa Johnson

Green's lawyers fought to keep him free. His team petitioned the Supreme Court to hear Green's case, but in February, the Justices declined to hear the case. Judge Dalton then ruled Green needed to turn himself in by April 17 to continue serving his life sentence.

Green said he has faith in God that people will see he deserves to be free, even as he prepared to return to custody Monday evening.

"I am not bitter. I am not down and out," he said. "I am trying to set an example of faith and hope for my family, for my church and for my town."

Green, accompanied by his fiancée and attorneys, turned himself over to the Florida Department of Corrections on Monday. He hugged family members before walking inside.

Keith Harrison, one of Green's attorneys, called it a dark day for justice. 

"The only avenues left to pursue are parole or clemency, and we are hopeful that the State will see that no public interest is served by keeping Mr. Green behind bars," Harrison said in a statement. "We will never stop fighting for Mr. Green's freedom. Although our avenues within the court system are exhausted, we believe the State of Florida will do the right thing by Mr. Green."

CBS News' "48 Hours" has been covering the case for years. 

Green was arrested in the April 3, 1989 death of 22-year-old Chip Flynn, who was shot to death in a Central Florida orange grove. 

Flynn's ex-girlfriend, Kim Hallock, told police she and Flynn had been kidnapped by a Black man. She said she managed to escape. Hallock identified Green in a questionable photo lineup. 

Kim Hallock picked Crosley Green [#2] as the assailant from this photo lineup. Green's picture is smaller and darker than any of the other pictures making it stand out. Investigators also told Hallock that the man that they suspected was in the lineup. This is no longer allowed under Florida's current laws. BCSO

There was no physical evidence tying Green to the shooting. Green said he was at a party at the time of the murder.

Green was arrested and charged with kidnapping, robbery and murder, despite the lack of direct evidence.

Just a few months after the shooting, two Brevard County officers who had been first on the crime scene expressed their doubts about the arrest. Patrol Deputy Mark Rixey and Sergeant Diane Clarke went to Assistant State Attorney Christopher White and told him they thought Hallock was the likely shooter. Hallock's story was inconsistent, both officers told White. 

Rixey later said, "I told him that I thought she did it." White took notes of the meeting but didn't turn over the information to Green's attorney, "48 Hours" reported.

At trial, prosecutors presented three witnesses, including Green's own sister, who claimed he had confessed. Later, all three, who had been facing legal problems of their own, recanted saying they had been pressured to testify against Green.

Green was offered a plea bargain at trial in 1990, but he refused to take it, maintaining his innocence. He was convicted by an all-White jury and sentenced to death. Lawyers eventually got him off death row due to errors in the sentencing process.

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