Although DNA evidence existed to clear Tampa’s Alan Crotzer, 45, of robbery and rape in 1981, he spent the next 24 years, six months and 13 days behind bars. Yesterday, reports the Tampa Tribune, a state prosecutor said there was “significant doubt” that Crotzer was guilty and a judge freed him of a 130-year prison sentence. Crotzer was convicted of being the shotgun-wielding ringleader of three men who robbed two couples and one of their daughters.
Crotzer’s road to release began when he wrote a letter in 2002 to the New York Innocence Project. The organization discovered there were five microscope slides of DNA evidence in the case that had not been destroyed. Crotzer’s co-defendants gave statements that they didn’t even know him. DNA tests at a California lab eventually indicated that Crotzer was innocent. Michael Sinacore, the prosecutor who helped Crotzer by cooperating with the DNA comparisons, said, “None of the detectives or prosecutors did anything wrong,” he said. “Everyone dealt with evidence they had available at that time.”