DENVER -- He has sat in prison for nearly 29 years for a crime he says he did not commit. Now, it appears a Denver District Court judge believes him, overturning his conviction.
It means 60-year-old Clarence Moses-El could get out of prison any day now.
On Monday, Judge Kandace Gerdes vacated his sentence and ordered a new trial.
In the meantime, he can be released on $50,000 bond.
But Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey must decide whether to try him again--nearly 30 years later--for a crime many say was built on flimsy evidence.
"We have not seen our brother or uncle in 27 years," Moses-El’s family said on a video to raise money to see him during a court hearing in July.
They can only see Clarence Moses-El through pictures online.
Pictures from prison. Behind bars.
"I can't imagine sitting in prison. No one can imagine," said his niece Towanda Moses from near Baltimore, Maryland.
Especially, she says, for a brutal rape he did not commit in Denver on April 16, 1987.
"I always had faith once the facts were out in the case, justice would prevail," community activist Shareef Aleem said. He campaigned to free Clarence a year-and-a-half ago.
He said those facts will soon exonerate him.
They are facts in a court order that show another man, LC Jackson, confessed to the crime.
Jackson wrote to Moses-El in April 2012 saying: "I really don’t know what to say to you. But let’s start by bringing what was done in the dark into the light. I have a lot on my heart. I don't know who[sic] working on this. But have them come up and see me. It's time. I'll be waiting."
The victim named Jackson as one of three suspects the day it happened, but police never questioned them.
A day-and-a-half later, she told police she had a dream identifying Moses-El as the suspect.
DNA evidence could have cleared him years later, with the help of Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project.
"If you go back 20 years, there was a box in Denver Police evidence that said ‘do not destroy.’ They destroyed it anyway. Moses should have been out 20 years ago," Aleem said.
His niece said the nightmare should have ended when their only evidence was a dream.
"When they sentenced Clarence Moses to a 48-year sentence because of a dream, something should have been done then, not 29 years later," she said.
The Denver DA has 30 days to decide whether to re-try Moses-El or let him go.
His office has to review the judge’s order and speak to the victim.
Moses-El will be transported to the Denver Sheriff’s Office, where if he can post bond, he’ll be released.AlertMe