Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Clarence Moses-EL    
CBS Screenshot
Clarence Moses-EL    
CBS Screenshot

In 1988 a Colorado man was convicted of raping a woman. The victim, according to the Associated Press, had been out drinking the night in August 1987 when she was attacked. When she reported the assault to police, she initially named a different man as her attacker (who would later say that he had sex with her that night). But the next day, while in the hospital, the woman claimed that a neighbor, Clarence Moses-EL, had attacked her and that his face came to her in a dream. Moses-EL was arrested and subsequently convicted of rape and assault, and for more than 25 years, he sat in prison declaring his innocence.

On Tuesday a judge overturned the conviction against Moses-EL, now 60. Supporters of Moses-EL posted the $50,000 bond the judge required for his release, according to AP, and he walked out of a Denver jail to hugs from grandchildren he had never met.

"This is the moment of my life, right here," Moses-EL told reporters. "I'm at a loss for words. I just want to get home to my family."

The grandfather is not out of the woods, however. Prosecutors have not decided whether to try Moses-EL again, noting that they are weighing the age of the case and the availability of witnesses. "A tentative trial date was set for May, if prosecutors decide to pursue new charges," AP reports. The judge did say that the case would likely result in an acquittal if Moses-EL were tried again, according to AP.

Police discarded crucial evidence in the case, including body swabs and the victim's clothing, that could have proved Moses-EL's innocence years ago. The case led to legislation requiring that DNA evidence be preserved in major felony cases for a defendant's lifetime, AP reports, which also notes: "Moses-EL's break came when L.C. Jackson, whom the victim had initially identified as her rapist, wrote to Moses-EL in 2013 saying he had sex with the woman that night. Jackson has not been charged in this case but is imprisoned for two other rapes in 1992." Moses-EL's attorney said that prosecutors would be foolish to pursue legal action again against an innocent man.

Outside the jail, Moses-EL's mind was not on what might happen in the distant future—he was too busy enjoying the embrace of his family and the idea of pizza "with chopped shrimp and steak, smothered in cheese."

He also said, "I'm just glad to be home. That surpasses a whole lot of things right now."


Read more at the Associated Press.

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