Man who served 28 years for rape found not guilty in new trial

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DENVER -- Clarence Moses-EL is now a free man after spending 28 years in prison for a crime he always said he did not commit.

The brutal rape happened in Denver on April 16, 1987. Moses-EL, now 60, had his conviction overturned by a Denver District Court judge in December.

Judge Kandace Gerdes vacated his sentence and ordered a new trial. Moses-EL was released on $50,000 bond.

It was up to Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey to decide whether to try him again -- nearly 30 years later -- for a crime many said was built on flimsy evidence.

On Monday, a jury found Moses-EL not guilty on all counts after about four hours of deliberations.

A court order shows another man, L.C. 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, but it was destroyed.

"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," community activist Shareef Aleem said.

He campaigned to free Moses-EL. 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 case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy DA Bonnie Benedetti.

"I want to thank the jury for their time and attention during the course of the trial.  I am proud to work in an office that believes and stands by the victim, and in which investigative resources were provided that enabled us to challenge the credibility of the so-called confession by L.C. Jackson," Benedetti said in a statement.

"It was the right thing to allow a jury -- not public opinion -- to make the decision in this case."

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