HOUSTON – Michael Green, the Houston man prosecutors say spent 27 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, got his first taste of freedom Friday when he walked out of the Harris County Courthouse.
“Great, really great,” Green said when asked how it felt to be a free man.
Green was convicted of rape in 1983 and sentenced to 75 years in prison.
But on Wednesday, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced that new DNA testing proved Green was not involved in the assault.
Green said he can’t help but be angry about the time he lost.
“That would come natural for doing time for something you didn’t do,” Green said.
He said he channeled his anger and studied the law to try and find a way to prove his innocence.
Green said one of the toughest things he dealt with behind bars was missing his mother’s funeral. “[She’s] one of the things that kept me really sane in prison. That’s why I almost went all the way off when she died and they wouldn’t let me go to her funeral.”
“It was a very painful experience for him not to be able to see his mother for the last time, and it was hard for me, because I wanted him there,” said Adrian Taylor, Green’s brother. “Now I got to get him to forgive, forgive and forget, and to move on.”
But community activist Quanell X, who led the family in prayer as they came out of the courthouse, said forgiveness will be entirely up to Green.
“That process is totally up to him. Forgiveness is his decision. Everyone should be very sympathetic and patient with Mr. Green, because he may have some problems readjusting to society” Quanell said, adding that everyone should give Green “as much love as possible.”
The readjustment process Green faces after so long in prison was a concern expressed by both his family and his attorney, Bob Wicoff.
Wicoff said The Innocence Project of Texas has personnel that will try to help his client with that.
“You can’t imagine. It’s like you land from another planet after 27 years. He’s never used a cell phone, he doesn’t know about the Internet. He’s never seen a flat-screen TV. All of this will be new to him,” Wicoff said.
“It’s a great relief that my brother is out, and now all we need is just to have time, let him get his mind together, get his spirit together,” said Taylor.
The assault that sent Green to prison occurred in north Houston when four men abducted a woman from a pay telephone and took her to a remote location, where three of them sexually assaulted her.
The men drove off and were chased by police, but they managed to bail out and flee on foot.
Green was detained by officers that night as he walked in the area.
The victim couldn’t identify Green in person when he was first detained, but later picked him from a photo lineup as one of her three attackers.
He was the only person convicted in the case.
“The tragedy in the Green case is not only was an innocent man in prison, but the victim was denied justice, society was denied justice and the perpetrators were free to commit more crimes, which they did,” Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said Friday.
Lykos said members of the Post-Conviction Review Section have identified all four of the men involved in the assault. She said they’ve all been in prison, and one of them is still behind bars.
They cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired.
“That’s just the way the ball bounce. They got away,” said Green, who blames the Houston Police Department for bungling his case.
A judge ordered that Green be released on $500 bond Friday morning.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will make a final ruling on his innocence.