Nearly three months out of prison, Michael Anthony Green on Wednesday received news he's long been waiting for — that the state of Texas said he was actually innocent for the crime that kept him behind bars for 27 years.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' unanimous ruling is an enormous weight lifted off of the Houston man's shoulders.
"I almost feel like crying from the joy," Green, 45, said. "It's great for the state to acknowledge something I tried to tell them from the get-go."
The court's decision clears the way for Green to work toward a settlement of more than $2 million from the state, his attorney, Bob Wicoff said.
Green is expected to be taxed on the money, which he may get by the end of the year, Wicoff said.
He said legislators may change that law in the next session, which could be retroactive and make Green's money tax-free.
Wicoff said Wednesday's ruling was not a surprise because no one objected to the trial court's finding that Green was actually innocent.
Wicoff said he also expects to ask for an official pardon for Green.
Faulty eyewitness identification in 1983 sent Green to prison for 75 years for the rape of a Houston woman.
Prosecutors working on the case found the victim's jeans to be tested.
He was freed July 30 after DNA evidence cleared him from any involvement in the case.
Green was walking in the early morning hours of April 18, 1983, when he was picked up by police searching for four men involved in the sexual assault.
Police took Green to the scene of the crime, where the victim was waiting with police. She told officers Green was not one of three men who raped her.
A week later, Green was arrested for stealing a car and pleaded guilty to evading arrest.
Police put him in another lineup, in which the victim identified him. She identified him again at trial where he was convicted.
After DNA from the victim's jeans was tested last year, Assistant District Attorney Alicia O'Neill and investigator J.J. Freeze identified all four men suspected in the crime.
The men cannot be convicted because the statute of limitations has passed, but three have gone to prison for other crimes.
Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos said she was pleased that the state's highest court for criminal law moved quickly to declare Green innocent.
Since his release from prison, Green went to work for Wicoff, doing legal research.
Three weeks ago, he learned he's going to be a father. On Sunday, he got engaged to a different woman.
Green seemed grateful for the recent developments in his life.
"Life is beautiful," he said. "After so long, it's great."