HOUSTON – The aggravated assault charge that kept an innocent Houston man imprisoned for 27 years was formally dropped Monday, according to the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
Dismissal of the charge came a month after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals formally ruled 44-year-old Michael Anthony Green innocent.
Green was released from prison in July after Harris County prosecutors reopened his case and new DNA tests they commissioned cleared him of the 1983 rape of a woman who had been abducted. Green now works as a paralegal for his Houston attorney, Bob Wicoff.
Wicoff said Monday's dismissal was little more than a formality that "ties a bow" on the Oct. 20 ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
That ruling allows Green to apply for compensation from the state for being wrongfully imprisoned. State law provides $80,000 for every year a person is wrongfully incarcerated, making Green eligible for more than $2 million.
Wicoff said Green also plans to apply for a pardon based on actual innocence from Gov. Rick Perry.
Green said he plans to continue working on a volunteer basis with Wicoff, helping him go through letters that inmates send about problems with their cases.
Green said adjusting to a life of freedom since his midsummer release has been harder than he expected, especially as he reviews letters from inmates who profess their innocence but do not have DNA evidence to support their claims.
In 1983, four men abducted a woman from a pay telephone in north Houston, taking her to a remote location where three of them raped her. The men drove off, leaving the woman there, but were later chased by police. The men abandoned their car and fled on foot. Green was detained by officers that night as he walked in the area.
The victim could not identify Green in person but later picked him from a photo lineup. Green was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 75 years in prison.
He was the only person convicted in the case. Green was 18 when he entered prison.
His case was one of the first looked at by the Harris County District Attorney's Office's newly formed Post-Conviction Review Section. The review team found the only remaining evidence in the case — clothing worn by the victim during the rape — and had it tested. The results excluded Green.
Authorities were able to identify the four men who abducted the woman, but because the statute of limitations on the rape has run out, they cannot be prosecuted.