A few days ago Anthony Michael Green got his first taste of freedom. Yesterday, on his way to a celebration in honor of his stepfather, he said he thought about asking the driver to pull over and let him simply stand on the side of the road to experience a world without walls. Green was released on bond after serving 13 years of a combined 50-year sentence, for the rape and robbery of a terminally ill Cleveland Clinic cancer patient. The horror of that crime brought about what many people are calling another tragic situation - locking up a potentially innocent man. 90.3 WCPN's Tarice Sims reports one family's determination to free one of their own.
Anthony Michael Green- I can't allow myself to get too emotional, because if you allow yourself to get too emotional your feelings will take over. You have to keep a level head and stay calm.
Tarice Sims- You can't tell by looking at him but Anthony Michael Green is just now experiencing life outside of prison after more than a decade behind bars. He appears calm and happy to join his stepfather Robert Mandell for his retirement party. After over 30 years of service at the Akron Post Office Mandell has decided it's time to focus on his family. Part of his focus would be on his stepson whom he calls “Michael”. Mandell got involved with the family when he met and married Green's mother Annie in the mid 90's, several years after the 1988 conviction.
Robert Mandell- I did what I had to do because of love and whether or not. Some people ask me well you know you're the stepfather but what I'd like to say is being the step father to me in my family the same as being dad you know. My son calls me dad I call him my son.
TS- Mandell says he helped his son not only because he was family but also he could relate to Green's situation on a more intimate level.
RM- I remember back when I was 18 years old I got in some serious trouble and I had no relatives I could turn to bail out. And so I had a godfather and my godfather got me out of the trouble and ended up... I ended up going before the judge and I was facing ten to thirty years in the federal pen, and the judge, my godfather got with his key people and they said well since Jr. has been a good young man we'll help him out so they gave me an option of either doing the ten to thirty years in the penitentiary or going into the military. My immediate response was, "where's the recruiting office?"
TS- Mandell went to study the law even becoming a paralegal, which helped in Green's case. He started making calls on his stepson's behalf to attorneys, researching the facts of the case, and he even spent several thousand dollars from his pension to pay for the DNA tests. Mandell was persistent in finding the crucial piece of evidence for testing, which has been the focus of the hearings - a washcloth that holds the DNA of the perpetrator.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason says his staff is running additional tests to confirm the results that in essence clear Green of the crime. Mason says if everything stays the course regarding the validity of the DNA evidence, they will ask the court to vacate judgment and release Green from prison once and for all. Mason says his office hasn't had much experience with wrongfully accused prisoners, but you can't but feel remorseful.
Bill Mason- This is the only case of its kind that's come forward. It's a very minute number in the big picture but absolutely; we don't want to incarcerate anybody who didn't commit a crime.
TS- Meanwhile, Green says can't allow himself to be bitter. When he first went to prison he says he accepted his incarceration but never could accept the reason why he was there.
AMG- There were times I got frustrated - a lot of times I got frustrated. I'd work on it a little while then I'd stop something else comes up I'll work on it a little while then stop, but I wasn't going to ever give up I'd fight until I die.
TS- Green says for now he wants to concentrate on his family including getting reacquainted with his two daughters. But, if the judgment is vacated at the October 18th hearing, the state government stands to compensate him with $25,000 for each year he was in prison. Green's stepfather Robert Mandell has also said they haven't ruled out a civil lawsuit. In Cleveland, Tarice Sims, 90.3 WCPN News.