DNA Clears Man of Rape After 27 Years in Prison

DNA tests as part of a reopened investigation have exonerated a Houston man of a rape for which he has spent 27 years in prison, the Harris County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Michael Anthony Green, 44, is expected to be released on bond Thursday, the district attorney's office said in a statement. It remains only for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to clear Green's conviction.

Green was 18 when a Harris County jury convicted him in 1983 of aggravated sexual assault of a woman who was taken by several men from a pay telephone just north of Houston. He was the only person convicted in the crime and was serving a 75-year prison term.

The identities of those authorities now say are the true assailants were being withheld until the Thursday court hearing, said George Flynn, a spokesman for the district attorney's office.

Green's attorney, Robert Wicoff, blamed bad police work for his client spending almost three decades in prison for a crime he did not commit.

"It happened because the police didn't take all the steps they needed to take to make sure they had the right man. They also used suggestive interrogation techniques when they questioned the victim that prompted her to identify my client," he said.

"As you might imagine, he's pretty upset" to have lost his freedom for 27 years, Wicoff said.

A Houston police spokesman said the department had no statement.

According to the district attorney's office, four men abducted the woman from the Greenspoint district on April 18, 1983. They forced her into their vehicle and drove to a remote area, where three of the men sexually assaulted her.

Houston police pursued a stolen car resembling the description of the vehicle used in the abduction, and the car's four occupants stopped and fled on foot in different directions. Police came upon Green, who was walking in the area. The victim could not identify Green in person when he was first detained, but later picked him from a photo lineup as one of her three attackers.

Green maintained his innocence. When Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos formed the new Post-Conviction Review Section, his case was among the first taken up.

"The evidence in this case had been sitting in the district clerk's office for 27 years, and no one had taken the initiative to do anything with it in the past," First Assistant District Attorney Jim Leitner said in the statement.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which will look at Green's case. also is scheduled to review the 1990 sexual assault conviction of Allen Wayne Porter, 39, of Houston, who was freed on bond Friday after a review exonerated him after 19 years in prison.

Lykos called for the creation of a regional crime lab to process evidence, such as DNA evidence, for law enforcement agencies throughout the Houston area.

"It is unconscionable that the third-largest county in the nation and its largest city do not have the capacity to timely test all rape kits, and that it is unavailable to solve other crimes such as burglary and auto theft," she said in the statement. "There should be immediate action on the regional crime lab — justice and public safety demand this."