Meet the Exonerees

Alan Crotzer

State: Florida
Date of Birth:
Incident Date: 1981
Age at Arrest: 19
Conviction Date: 1981
Age When Exonerated: 45
Exonerated Date: 23-Jan-06
Time Served: 24.5
Conviction: Sexual Battery, Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Robbery, Attempted Robbery
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: No

Case Details

After losing more than 24 years of his life to an undeserved prison sentence, Alan Crotzer was released in 2002 when DNA evidence proved his innocence. In July of 1981, a group of three men, one of whom was armed, broke into a Tampa, Florida, home. Aside from committing robbery, the assailants kidnapped two of the five occupants of the home, a 12-year-old girl and a 38-year-old woman, and subsequently raped them in a car. The three other people who were in the house at the time managed to relay the license plate number of the attackers’ car to the police. The car was linked to Douglas James, who was borrowing the vehicle from its owner, who was in jail at the time. A photo including James and 20-year-old Crotzer was shown to the victims, who were positively identified as two of the assailants. Corlenzo James, Douglas’ brother, was identified by the victims as the third man who committed these atrocities. While the James brothers admitted to their involvement in the crime, Alan Crotzer continued to maintain his innocence. In court, lab analysts significantly misled the jury by testifying that the blood and hair samples found at the crime scene matched that of Crotzer; in reality, it was impossible to make these conclusions without DNA testing. Finally, in 2003, the specimens were re-analyzed using DNA testing, confidently excluding Alan Crotzer from the crime scene. Furthermore, Douglas James even admitted that Crotzer did not commit the crime with him and his brother. Crotzer now works for the Innocence Project of Florida and is an Intervention Specialist at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. As a victim of our imperfect criminal justice system for a significant portion of his young adult life, he is actively helping to increase youth’s understanding of their vulnerability to the law.