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Man exonerated, freed in Florida now faces attempted-murder charge

July 31, 2012|By Michael Muskal

A man who spent 24 years in a Florida prison for crimes he did not commit has been arrested and charged with attempted murder in another case, according to officials.

Alan Jerome Crotzer has been charged with attempted murder and with shooting into a car in Tallahassee, Fla., wounding Antoine Davis in the arm and leg, according to police. Davis told authorities Crotzer had threatened him several months ago after they had an argument.

With the help of the Innocence Project of Florida and in part because of new DNA evidence, Crotzer was exonerated in 2006 of rape and robbery charges. As part of a $1.25-million settlement with the state, Crotzer received an initial payment of $250,000 and $6,700 a month for 20 years. Crotzer is on the group’s board as well.

“We recognize both the seriousness of the charges and the importance of respecting Mr. Crotzer's presumption of innocence and right to due process,” the group said in an e-mail sent to reporters on Tuesday. “It would be inappropriate at this early stage to comment further and we refer all inquiries to his private counsel at this time.”

In 1982, Crotzer was convicted of robbing a Tampa, Fla., family and raping a 38-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl at gunpoint. Crotzer said he was elsewhere, but he was identified by witnesses.

Years later, another man convicted in the same incident told police that Crotzer wasn't with them that night. DNA testing then helped convince prosecutors to drop the case and he was released from prison.

“I'm not that monster they try to make me be. I am a new person,” Crotzer told The Associated Press in October 2008.

In addition to serving on the Innocence Project’s board, Crotzer has frequently spoken out on behalf of those wrongfully convicted.

In the current case, Crotzer is accused of shooting Davis on Sunday, according to a probable cause report released by Tallahassee police.

“The victim said he was shot by the suspect as they were driving separate cars side by side westbound in the 1100 block of Apalachee Parkway,” the police report states. “The suspect was in the inside lane and shot a handgun across his passenger seat through the open window, striking the victim's car on the driver's side. The victim said the suspect shot numerous times as he slumped to his right in an attempt to avoid being hit anymore. The victim believes the suspect emptied the handgun of ammunition when the shots stopped.”

The victim then went home and called police.

Crotzer faces one count of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle. He was arrested Monday.

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Join Michael on Google+. Email: michael.muskal@latimes.com

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