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Exonerated Florida man faces charges

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida man who spent more than two decades in prison before he was exonerated of rape and was paid more than $1 million has been charged with attempted murder.

Alan Jerome Crotzer, 51, is accused of shooting into a car that he was driving alongside Sunday in Tallahassee, wounding Antoine Davis in his arm and leg.

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Davis told police that Crotzer threatened him a couple of months ago after they had an argument over a CD he had sold to Davis’s girlfriend. Davis said he saw Crotzer’s car when he was leaving a Best Buy store.

Crotzer pulled up to him and fired through an open passenger window while both cars were going about 40 miles per hour, police said. Police found Crotzer based on a description of his car, and he was arrested Monday after Davis picked him out of a police lineup.

The news of the arrest stunned those who have worked with Crotzer since he was released from prison in 2006.

‘‘I don’t know how to describe the reaction as anything but truly shocking, and based upon my experience over the course of the past several years, it is completely out of character,’’ said Mark Schlakman, chairman of the board of directors of the Innocence Project of Florida.

Crotzer spent more than 24 years in prison after he was convicted of rape in 1982. Crotzer was convicted of robbing a Tampa family and kidnapping and raping a 38-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl at gunpoint.

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Crotzer said he was nowhere near the scene and witnesses corroborated that, but he had a previous robbery conviction when he was 17 and a witness picked him out of a lineup. He was sentenced to 130 years in prison.

Years later, another man convicted in the robbery told police that Crotzer was not with them that night and revealed the real rapist. DNA testing along with other evidence convinced prosecutors that Crotzer was not involved. He was released in 2006.

In 2008, Governor Charlie Crist pardoned Crotzer for stealing beer in 1979 when he was 18 and for bringing marijuana into prison in 1991. Crotzer said then that he had turned his life around.

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