Florida News August 25, 1999
TITUSVILLE – Private investigators say they’ve uncovered enough evidence to free a former drug dealer who has spent the past decade on death row for a 1989 shooting in Brevard County.
Crosley “Pappa” Green was convicted in the slaying of Chip Flynn, who was parked in his truck with his girlfriend when Green found them and robbed him, prosecutors said.
Though there was no physical evidence linking Green to the crime, jurors found him guilty in just three hours and recommended he die in the electric chair.
Paul Ciolino, one of four investigators working on Green’s case for free, said he’s convinced Green was wrongly convicted.
“They’ve got the wrong guy in jail, they’re trying to kill him, and we’re just not going to allow it to happen,” said Ciolino, an opponent of the death penalty who earlier this year helped free a man from Illinois’ death row just hours before his scheduled execution.
Ciolino and the other investigators arrived in Titusville on July 31. Since then, they’ve interviewed people connected to the case and slogged through piles of documents.
They learned of the case through Nan Webb, of Viera, another opponent of the death penalty who began corresponding with Green in 1996.
“I’m a big believer in prayer,” Webb said. “I knew from the moment I read the first crime report that Crosley was innocent.”
According to prosecutors, Green robbed Flynn and his girlfriend, Kim Hallock, at gunpoint in April 1989. He then tied Flynn’s hands behind his back and drove them all to a nearby orange grove.
Hallock managed to slip Flynn a gun he kept in his glove compartment before Green forced them out of the truck. Flynn fired four times at Green, but missed each time, Hallock testified at Green’s trial. Hallock said she saw Green shoot Flynn as she drove away to get help.
Green has always maintained his innocence and said he was at his girlfriend’s house that night.
Ciolino and the investigators say what they’ve learned points to Green’s innocence:
A footprint found at the park that prosecutors linked to Green does not match his shoes; it’s one size larger and the print doesn’t match the actual shoe tread.
Police did not find Green’s fingerprints, fibers from his clothing, his hair or his blood in the truck or at the crime scene.
Three people who testified against Green, including his sister, have now recanted their stories, Ciolino said.
Sheila Green says she made up the story that her brother admitted to the shooting in a deal with prosecutors to get a reduced sentence on drug charges. Her boyfriend, Lonnie Hillary, who also said Green admitted the shooting, also has changed his story.
Tim Curtis, who was Flynn’s best friend and sold Flynn the truck he was in that night, helped police link Green to the shooting. He now says he has his doubts about Green’s guilt.
“There is a lot of stuff that is not adding up,” Curtis said. “If an innocent man goes to the chair, then we’ve lost two innocent lives. I don’t want that on my conscience.”
Assistant State Attorney Chris White said prosecutors still feel confident with the case against Green, but he did meet with Ciolino and another investigator last week to review it.
Green’s conviction was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court in 1994.
His public defenders could now go before a Brevard County judge and ask for a new trial on the grounds there is new evidence, evidence was withheld at trial or defense counsel was inadequate.