Green, who said he has clung to his faith and remained optimistic despite the looming possibility of returning to prison, called the situation “the way it is.”
“It can’t make me feel down or out or stuff like that because I came too far,” he said in a video shared by his attorneys. “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 morning 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; it was converted to life in prison in 2009.
Green had served 28 years when Dalton ruled that then-prosecutor Chris White had failed to turn 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 Court of Appeals disagreed, writing that concerns over the withheld evidence had already been exhausted at the state court level and that Green had not proven 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. Parole could require an admission of guilt — something Green refuses to do. 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.
“We will continue to fight for his freedom,” attorney Keith Harrison has told The Washington Post. “And so, there’s no end to that road.”