Update 5:25 pm:
A Florida man who was awarded millions of dollars for being wrongfully jailed is now facing charges of attempted first degree murder. The Tallahassee Police Department arrested Alan Crotzer Monday night.
Crotzer was originally sentenced to 130 years in prison, but after serving 24 and a half years, he left prison a free man in 2006.
The now 51-year-old man was exonerated of a robbery as well as a rape charge, after DNA evidence cleared him. Two years later, the Florida Legislature awarded him 1.25 million dollars. He was also granted free tuition to any college or university in the state.
Since that time, he’s been working to raise awareness about felons rights and talking to at-risk youths about staying out of prison.
For example, in early July, he talked about the importance of restoring voting rights for ex-felons.
“I did 24 years, 6 months, 13 days, and 4 hours wrongfully convicted in the Florida penal system," said Crotzer. "And, once released, they did give me voter registration card because I asked for it. First time I’ve ever had one, two months later, they revoked it. I was very hurt by that. I felt like a second class citizen.”
Crotzer has also been on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Project of Florida, the group that helped to get him exonerated.
This is why Mark Schlakman, the group’s Board chairman, says with all the good work Crotzer has done, he has a hard time believing the allegations. Schlakman spoke with Crotzer soon after the arrest by Tallahassee Police.
“Al was very concerned and conveyed to me that he had no idea what was driving this, meaning that apparently law enforcement was trying to find him and arrest him for these alleged offenses,” said Schlakman.
Crotzer’s charged with attempted first degree murder while shooting into an occupied vehicle on Appalachee Parkway, which is a busy Tallahassee street. The victim, Antoine Davis, was wounded in the arm and leg, claiming Crotzter shot at him at least eight times. He picked Crotzer out of a photo-line up and told police he’d been in a confrontation with Crotzer over a CD Davis sold to Crotzer’s girlfriend a few months ago.
Schlakman says he can’t talk about any further specifics in the case, but he can’t even begin to think what is going through Crotzer’s mind.
“I can’t imagine what it was to endure his initial experience and the 25 years of his life almost anyway that he lost," said Schlakman. "To go through this, now, again, I can’t even imagine what it is now, and a nightmare, would probably be understating it.”
Crotzer is currently being held without bond. His attorney, Thomas Powell, says he has not yet had time to discuss the charges with Crotzer, but he plans to file a plea of not guilty.
Update 11:51 am: Here is the on-the-record statement from the Innocence Project of Florida
The Innocence Project of Florida has learned that exoneree and Board Member Alan Crotzer was arrested last night by the Tallahassee Police Department on charges including attempted murder. He has retained Tallahassee attorney Thomas Powell as private legal counsel. We recognize both the seriousness of the charges and the importance of respecting Mr. Crotzer's presumption of innocence and right to due process. It would be inappropriate at this early stage to comment further and we refer all inquiries to his private counsel at this time.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida man who successfully won $1.25 million for being wrongfully jailed is now being accused of attempted murder.
Tallahassee police late Monday arrested 51-year-old Alan Jerome Crotzer.
Crotzer is accused of shooting up to eight bullets into a car riding next to him on a busy city street. The driver of the other car suffered gunshot wounds in his arm and leg. The victim told police he had a confrontation with Crotzer recently.
Crotzer spent more than 24 years in prison on rape charges. He was freed after DNA evidence showed that he had not committed the crime.
The Florida Legislature in 2008 approved a bill that paid Crotzer $1.25 million for his time spent in prison.
A call to Crotzer's attorney requesting comment has not been immediately returned.