Kevin Green, a Tustin man who was wrongly convicted of raping his pregnant wife and causing the death of their unborn daughter 20 years ago, on Tuesday settled a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, who continued to hold him partially responsible for the crime.
The settlement brings closure to a two-decade-long legal ordeal for Green, who was set free in 1996 after authorities linked the crime to another man.
"Our lives don't have to involve courtrooms anymore," Green, 41, said outside the Santa Ana courthouse. He currently lives in Jefferson City, Mo., with his parents and his new wife, Kelly.
In October, Gov. Gray Davis signed an unprecedented bill awarding Green $620,000 in compensation for the years he spent behind bars for a crime authorities now say he didn't commit.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. It's unclear whether Green will pay a financial settlement to his wife from that award.
Green was convicted of beating and raping his wife, Dianna D'Aiello, after an alleged fight in 1979. Green always maintained his innocence, saying another man had attacked D'Aiello. The couple were expecting their first child, but the full-term fetus died during the attack.
Green spent 16 years behind bars until new DNA technology linked D'Aiello's rape and those of five other women to serial killer Gerald Parker. Parker, dubbed the "Bedroom Basher" for a string of sex slayings that terrorized Orange County in the 1970s, was convicted and sentenced to death earlier this year for the attack on D'Aiello and the murders of the five other women.
In court papers, D'Aiello claimed that her ex-husband beat her and left her semiconscious in the couple's Tustin apartment just before Parker entered through an unlocked kitchen door, struck her with a 2-by-4 and raped her.
"The culpability of Gerald Parker does not exculpate Kevin Lee Green," the court papers said.
D'Aiello declined to comment on her lawsuit Tuesday, saying only: "It's very emotional, but I'm happy this is done and over with."
During brief testimony Friday morning, Green denied striking his wife and recounted finding her on the night of the attack.
At the hospital, Green said, he learned that his unborn daughter was dead and doctors had to perform an emergency C-section to save the mother.
"We started to prepare ourselves for what we thought would be the worst," Green said. "That was the longest three hours of my life."
Outside the courtroom, Green, flanked by his parents, said he does not blame his ex-wife for anything.
"She was as much a victim of the system as I was," he said.
D'Aiello filed a wrongful-death lawsuit shortly after Green's conviction and won a multimillion-dollar judgment by default because Green was in prison. When he was freed from prison in 1996, Green filed a countersuit to have the judgment thrown out.
On Tuesday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco F. Firmat voided the original judgment but allowed D'Aiello to file an amended lawsuit. Nonetheless, the judge encouraged both sides to settle instead of going to trial.
"The judge's focus was bringing closure to this case," said D'Aiello's attorney, Robert J. Reynolds. "They need to move on with their lives. No matter how you look at this, it's a complete tragedy."