Alan Crotzer, exonerated after 24 years, back in jail

Alan Crotzer (INSET)

Incarceration isn’t supposed to be a birthright, but it’s as though it has become one for Alan Crotzer.

The St. Petersburg native became a cause célèbre when, in January 2006, DNA evidence led to his exoneration of robbery and rape charges after 24 years in prison.

Now, records show Crotzer — who had moved to Tallahassee after leaving prison — has been in the Leon County Jail since March 21. He’s accused of breaking curfew, which violated his probation on a charge of possessing the drug sometimes known as “flakka.”

And the 57-year-old has had successive brushes with the law since his exoneration, including an attempted murder charge in Tallahassee that was dropped in 2015. A message was left Thursday morning with his longtime attorney, Tom Powell, also of Tallahassee.

At a 2015 news conference, Crotzer told reporters he wasn’t “that monster they keep trying to make me out to be.”

“I’m not going to be that monster,” he said. “I’m trying to do the right thing.”

Crotzer received a $1.25 million settlement from the state as compensation for his wrongful conviction, signed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. It “included a $250,000 lump sum payment and $6,700 a month for 20 years,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

For years, Crotzer has said “he’s felt like police and prosecutors have targeted him since his release from state prison,” the Tampa Tribune reported.

“I’ve been told by several people, don’t even jaywalk, don’t spit on the sidewalk,” he said in 2015. He returned to that theme in a May 31 handwritten letter he sent to the court while he was in jail.

His wife, Quebella Shabazz Small, divorced him in 2011. He explained how he’s now the single parent of a 4-year-old daughter. (It’s not clear whether she’s back with her mother or in state custody.)

Crotzer also said he has lost jobs because of the curfew imposed under his probation and his car was stolen from the parking lot of his condo complex, but all the while he “didn’t complain.”

“I pay taxes. I vote. I give back when I can. But I ask myself if I am being treated fair and impartial and without bias by law enforcement and by the judicial system?” he wrote to Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler. “Am I being judged today because of my 2006 exoneration?

“… The wrong done and being done to me cannot be made right by wronging me again,” he added. “If that be the mindset … then the justice system … no longer works.”

A violation of probation hearing is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 30, court dockets show.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


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