I have often heard prosecutors say that they do not get to pick their witnesses and when you are dealing with criminals, you are more than likely to have criminals as your witnesses. Before forensics obviously witnesses were all that authorities had. Obviously there are going to be those who lie in hopes of either getting away with something they did or to gain something in another area. Over the decades authorities have learned, or at least most should have, that even the most innocent eye witness can be flawed and so to rely on this is not always a good thing.
On April 4, 1989 a 911 call was received from a woman named Kim Hallock in Mims Florida. She said that she had met up with an ex boyfriend, Charles "Skip" Flynn Jr. at a park sometime after 11 pm to talk and that they had been held up by a "black man" who then kidnapped them, took them to an orange grove and then proceeded to shoot Charles. She had gotten away but Charles was still in the orange grove.
When authorities arrived they found Charles laying face down on the ground with his hands tied behind his back with shoelaces and a gunshot wound to the chest. Most reports say that he was alive when the authorities got there but died before an ambulance arrived. One report stated that he said "Get me out of here," but I cannot confirm that and find it a bit odd. At any rate, no information was gathered about the incident from Charles before he died.
On June 8, 1989 Crosley Green was arrested. By September of 1990 he was convicted and the following February he was sentenced to death. Of course there were the appeals that are automatic in death penalty cases. In between arguing that Crosley was actually innocent (which I will get to) his lawyers also worked on at the very least getting him off death row. They finally achieved that in 2009. Although I have to wonder why it took until 2009. A judge had ordered a re-sentencing in October of 2007. He was subsequently re-sentenced to serve a life term with a concurrent sentence of 17 years. Currently it seems (at least as of June of 2015) Crosley's lawyers have filed with the federal court in Florida to at the very least have a new trial or to have his or to simply have his conviction overturned and Crosley be exonerated.
Before I go deeper into this case I want to point out something. This case, as many do has a racial overtone to it and many claim that Crosley was convicted and has failed in the court system basically simply because he is a black man. The only time you will hear anything pertaining to this being a race issue is when I feel that to mention it is relevant, which is not to say that I completely agree with those who have made this a "race thing." We do have to put ourselves back into this time period however. This was an era of time in which racial tensions were high. It became the time in which more and more was talked about when it came to the high rate of black men in prison, or those dying on the street. It was a time before forensics when word of mouth was often believed. Keep in mind that while Flynn's murder took place in 1989, several months later a man in Boston named Charles Stuart claimed to have gotten lost driving his pregnant wife home and ended up in a bad part of town where they were car jacked and shot by a black man. Boston was in an uproar looking for this man that ultimately killed a woman and her then unborn child. Thankfully it soon became apparent that Charles Stuart had committed the crime himself. But that did not matter, the damage was done. Then in March of 1991 we all saw a video in which the LAPD were beating a man named Rodney King and the riots of 1992 it caused when the officers were acquitted. There is also the case of Susan Smith in South Carolina, who in 1995 claimed a black man car jacked her, forced her out and took off with her two young sons in the car. She too had committed the crime of drowning her children in a lake, still strapped in their car seats. In the Stuart and Smith cases police were criticized for believing the lone witness in the case when they made a generic description of a black man. Many will argue that 2014/2015 has been another of these racial tension times, not that they have ever completely left, as we have had several incidences reported of police shootings of black men. And yet this case happened just prior to these that I have mentioned. While I do believe that race may have played a role in the apprehension of Crosley, I cannot say that this case, or the system that has kept him in prison, is solely a race issue itself. It may be a case of tunnel vision; it may be a case of wanting to solve a case quickly, it may even be the results of a crooked prosecution, but we see those in cases of white people too so please keep that in mind.
Lets first start with what got Crosley Green convicted. Remember that in 1990 (when the investigation was taking place for the most part) there was little known about DNA, but it was in that time period in which most investigations were (or at least should have) changed when it came to collecting evidence and preserving it. They were still nearly limited to using things like fingerprints and blood typing. First and foremost the biggest witness for the prosecution was Kim Hallock who had given a statement about what had happened and had identified Crosley in a photo line up. Two other witnesses, one being Crosley's sister Sheila, testified that Crosley had confessed to them (I could not confirm if they claimed he confessed to this particular crime or if he had supposedly simply said he "killed someone"). Another man, Tim Curtis was friends with Charles Flynn but also knew Crosley Green. He had stated that the sketch made by the police looked like Crosley and it seems it was him who put the police on his trail in the first place. Aside from that, there seemed to be nothing else pointing to Crosley Green as the murderer of Charles Flynn. According to reports in 1990 Flynn's truck had been cleaned and there was no hair, no blood, no fingerprints or anything else that pointed to Crosley Green found.
Over the years many of the witnesses have recanted their testimony and others have been found that have confirmed Crosley's alibi of being at his girlfriends. Both Sheila Green and Alan Murray, the other person who claimed Crosley confessed, are among those who have recanted. Both stated that they felt pressured by the authorities to cooperate. Murray was on parole at the time and said it was indicated that without cooperation in this case he would be sent back to prison (although I am unsure under what charge he claimed). Sheila was facing drug charges herself and although she never said that she was promised a reduced sentence she claims it was indicated that with her cooperation they would "help" in that case in her having a shorter sentence. I cannot confirm if this happened to be the case. Sheila recanted her testimony from the 1990 trial in April of 1992 from prison where she was at the time. Tim Curtis, the man who knew both Crosley and Flynn claims now that he believes he was mistaken and was coerced into naming Green. Two (now former) investigators who were among the first at the crime scene have also expressed their doubts as to Crosley's guilt and have expressed that the scene indicated someone else, someone they named that I will reveal shortly.
I have found conflicting reports when it comes to subsequent DNA testing that has been done since the time of the trial. In 2000 results from the testing of hairs found in the truck were revealed. The St. Petersburg Times announced in July of 2000 that the Florida police had stated that there was a DNA match to two hairs found. However, another report I found simply stated that the tests did not rule him out as a suspect and that they could have "come from Green's maternal side." His appeals lawyers and the investigators on the case have in some cases said this information is "unreliable and error filled" while in other reports still claim there is no matches what so ever, so whether there was DNA matching, closely matching, or not matching at all I cannot fully say.
So is there another reliable suspect? Sure there is and her story is suspicious to say the least. I do want to point out that Kim Hallock (she has since married) has never been charged in this case. I would like to say that I would like to give Kim the benefit of the doubt here as none of us know how we would react or what we would do if we were in such a situation as she described. However, the true crime buff in me cannot fully come to that conclusion and I, like the two investigators who were among the first to respond, find her story highly suspicious and feel as if she was not investigated properly.
So, what was Kim's story? Did it stay consistent? Did it match the evidence? The answers to the last two question is no and no. It should be pointed out that while apparently Charles Flynn's parent, Charles and Peggy (who have both since reportedly passed away) believed Kim's story as well as believed that Crosley Green was guilty, pointed out that Charles had a new girlfriend and that they had no idea as to why he would have met up with Kim in the first place. Indications from others also seemed to point out that Charles was happy with the new girlfriend and did not have an interest in Kim anymore. However, according to Kim she and Charles had met at a park to talk (about what??) and that a black man, that she first stated had a Jheri-curl hair style (Crosley had a buzz cut) had threatened them with a gun and tied Charles' hands behind his back. He then drove Charles' truck to the orange grove with Kim in the middle while continuing to hold them at gunpoint. The black man then gets out of the truck (to do what???) and somehow Charles was able to get his gun (one report says she said Charles got it, another says that she handed it to him) and he emerged from the truck shooting at the black man but missed. Kim claims the man then returned several shots while Charles yelled for her to get in the truck and drive off. She says that the man was continuing to shoot Charles while she drove away. She then drives to a friends house and calls 911.
There are several problems with this story. For one, the truck apparently had a manual transmission. Crosley's lawyers claim that he did not know how to drive a stick shift. But, even if he could, questions arose as to how he could shift the truck, drive it and hold a gun on Kim and Charles. To be fair, while Kim apparently told the police that Crosley shifted, Charles' father later claimed that Kim told him that Crosley had her shift. Secondly pertaining to the truck, although I did not see pictures of the truck, it was apparently a very large truck and Tim Curtis indicated that you could not get in or out of the truck without touching it in some way and yet there were no fingerprints what so ever found connecting Crosley. Even if you did not have to touch the outside to get in and out, reasonably there would be prints inside the vehicle. There was no indication that if Kim's story is true that Crosley (or whomever it was) wiped it down since Kim drove off in it. Curtis also indicated that the truck had a huge tendency to stall and unless you knew how to handle the truck it would happen which was never mentioned. It is also highly unlikely that after shooting Charles and Kim taking off that the perpetrator would have hung around the crime scene for very long. They are obviously going to think that she is going to go to the first house she comes to and call the authorities and so they had better get out of there as soon as they can. With that said, authorities stated they found no gun casings or bullets at the scene (I am going to assume the bullet that penetrated Charles' chest remained there and that is the only shot in which my research found), despite according to Kim both Crosley (or the random black man) and Charles fired their guns several times. The area was pitch black apparently and even if the perpetrator wanted to take the time to get the bullets or casings, it is not likely they would have found them all. There was a gun next to Charles when authorities arrived, presumably it was his, but despite the fact that he supposedly fired the gun several times, with his hands tied behind his back no less, reports state that his hands were checked for gunshot residue and there was none. So either he never shot the gun or somehow, shooting from behind his back, missed his target "several times" yet managed not to get gunshot residue on his hands. Then we get to the fact that Kim says that Charles told her to take off and she gets into the truck but does not go to the nearest house for help. Instead she continues on (I am sure somewhere I was told what the distance was) to a friends house where she then calls 911 to report that Charles was lying in the orange grove. So her story seemed odd standing alone but did not match the evidence at the scene. Again to be fair, Kim has never been charged with anything in this crime. But, the flip side of that is that it seems she's never really been fully investigated either and the odds of proving differently now are slim to none. I found nothing on any ballistic testing done or if the bullet that killed Charles was still inside his body, although as I stated it was reported that no bullets or casings were found at the scene. So the question is, what kind of gun was Charles killed by and where is it? Was it at least the same caliber as the gun that was supposedly his laying next to his dying body? Was Kim ever tested for gunshot residue? So at this point, over 25 years later and without these tests there's little chance that Kim, or anyone else would be charged or at the very least convicted.
The case now lays with the Supreme Court (at the federal level as his state appeals have run out). First off his defense attorney's are citing the recantation of several witnesses as well as the inclusion of witnesses who claim Crosley was in fact at his girlfriends house as stated. While I am not necessarily saying that I do not believe those who are recanting their testimony or adding to it, I think this is a none issue, at least for me. Lets look at the evidence... lets look at the forensics... lets look at the investigators and prosecution instead. As Dr. House always said... People lie so I am not going to go on someone's word especially when that word also admits to lying in the past. As most appeals lawyers tend to claim, they are also claiming ineffective counsel at trial. I have found nothing specific in this claim so again, at least at this point this is really a non issue. Another claim is that the photo line up in which Kim Hallock supposedly ID'd him was flawed. Apparently just recently the current prosecutor has admitted to this. According to their claim, Crosley's picture was smaller and darker than the others in the line up and theoretically because of this ones eyes are drawn to that particular picture. They are also claiming that the prosecutors in the trial had suppressed evidence (although I found no specific things mentioned), inaccurate forensics were presented, and that this case is similar (again, found nothing specific) to three other cases from the county in which 3 other men had been convicted only to be exonerated later. Today (at least as far as the last record I could find), Crosley Green sits in prison for a crime that he has always steadfastly denied being involved with. It should be noted that before his trial a plea was offered in which he would have plead guilty to second degree murder and given 22 years, he turned this down saying he was not going to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit.
So what is my take? I admit that neither Crosley Green, nor many of the witnesses in his trial were choir children. In fact, he had just been released from prison from a drug charge on March 16, 1989, less than a month before the murder. That being said, I truly think Kim Hallock should have been investigated more. As I pointed out earlier, this was especially a time in which the "random black man" tended to be blamed and cities across the country spent time searching for this man and harassing many black men and in some of them it was determined the accuser was actually the perpetrator. I admit I am a bit confused on the DNA evidence and just what those results were, but I am unsure if they would matter to me. I think the most important piece of forensic evidence would have been the fingerprints. To believe that this man was supposedly in this truck for a period of time, no matter how short it was and left no fingerprints, but possibly only two hairs, is a huge stretch for me. What about the weapon used to commit the crime? Where is that or at the very least what type of gun was it and can one be linked to Crosley? If so I found no report of such. Tim Curtis seemed to be friends with both Charles Flynn and Crosley Green and knew a lot about the inner workings of the truck. By all indications he had been in that truck before, who is to say that hair transfer had not occurred. Simply put even if those two hairs were conclusively connected to Crosley I am just not sure that would be enough for me to convict. In the same respect when it comes to the witnesses that the defense now claims recanted their testimony or added to it, that would not be enough for me to reverse. But, based on the forensics and possibly the prosecution misconduct (if I knew more specifics) it truly does deserve another look and he probably needs to be set free because it was not there then and it does not look to be there now.