A Denver man imprisoned for 28 years after a woman said she dreamed he raped her was released Tuesday evening.
“I waited a long time for this," said Clarence Moses-El.
A Denver judge set the bond for Clarence Moses-El at $50,000 Tuesday morning. His supporters said they raised the $50,000.
Moses-El, now 60 years old, was convicted of raping and assaulting a woman when she returned home from a night of drinking in 1987. The victim said his face came to her in a dream while in the hospital, but Moses-El has maintained his innocence. Moses-El had been sentenced to 48 years in prison.
“My spirituality that’s what really kept me going and my innocence that’s what I can say right then that’s what really kept me going," said Moses-El.
A judge overturned his conviction earlier this month, after another inmate allegedly confessed to the crime. Moses-El will may now be re-tried.
He emerged from behind bars and walked down a Denver street following his release, arm-and-arm with his wife and son and with a big smile on his face. He told an ABC News producer, "I'm going to eat a pizza with shrimp and lots of cheese." A statement from his lawyers said he looked forward to living with his wife in Denver, spending time with his son and meeting his 12 grandchildren for the first time.
L.C. Jackson, serving time for two other rapes, testified this summer that he had consensual sex with the woman that Moses-El was convicted of assaulting on the night of the attack. That, along with blood test results, helped convince the judge that a jury likely wouldn't find Moses-El guilty now.
A jury convicted him largely based on the testimony of the victim, who "dreamed" Moses-El was the attacker.
However, the Denver District Attorney's Office said in a statement that Moses-El is guilty.
"The victim knew Clarence Moses El because he was her neighbor and she was able to recognize him during the attack. Those who now argue that he was convicted based solely on a dream are either unaware of the complete facts or disregard them. The victim was severely beaten, suffered multiple facial fractures, and was in a coma. It took some time after the attack before the victim was able to give her statement. She testified during the trial and was cross-examined at length. The jury believed her testimony that she was attacked and raped by Clarence Moses El."
The DA added that the man who confessed made up his story to "help out" Moses-El, saying he could not be convicted for this crime even with a confession because of the statute of limitations. The man's story is not consistent with the victim's injuries, the DA said.
She initially named the man who confessed when police interviewed her, the Associated Press reports.
This case inspired legislation requiring preservation of DNA evidence in major felony cases for a defendant's lifetime after police threw out body swabs and the victim's clothing.
Moses-EL's efforts to appeal his conviction were unsuccessful and the legal and political system repeatedly failed him in his decades-long attempt to win his freedom.
He won a legal bid for DNA testing on the evidence to clear his name, but Denver police threw it away, saying they didn't see any notice from prosecutors to hold on to it.
In 2008, the governor, a former Denver prosecutor, objected to legislation that would have given him a new trial and that received widespread support from lawmakers.
Moses-EL's break came when Jackson 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.
Prosecutors have not decided whether to try Moses-El again, saying they are considering 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.
"What they’ve characterized as a recantation was not a recantation at all it was disavowed under oath and everything points to the true perpetrator who is not Mr. Moses-El, so we’re still hopeful that they’ll make the right decision and decide to dismiss this case," said Eric Klein, a defense attorney for Moses-El.
Judge Kandace Gerdes, who dismissed Moses-El's conviction, ruled Tuesday that he could be released on bond, which supporters quickly posted. He walked free hours later, after an interview with officials who will supervise his release.
His family and other backers said they were preparing a celebration complete with the banana cream pies that he also requested.