Cleveland A man who served 13 years in prison for a rape conviction was acquitted Thursday based on DNA evidence from a dirty washcloth found at the scene.
Prosecutors and Judge Anthony O. Calabrese Jr. apologized to Anthony Michael Green, who turned 36 Thursday.
"How do you restore those years that you spent in prison?" Calabrese asked from the bench. "Maybe only God can answer that question."
Green said he has no malice toward those who convicted him because he is choosing to focus on the future instead of the past.
"Anger is a hindering block," Green said. "I have no room for it."
Green was convicted of raping a nurse being treated for liver cancer at the Cleveland Clinic, where he was a former employee. She died after testifying at Green's trial that he was her attacker, and he was sentenced to 20 to 50 years in prison.
Green's stepfather, Robert Mandell, tracked down a dirty washcloth used by the attacker. The washcloth was found at the crime scene and had been stored in a dusty evidence room in the courthouse basement.
Tests done by the defense showed that DNA on the washcloth did not match Green's. The tests were obtained by Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project at Cardozo Law School in New York, an organization that uses DNA evidence in efforts to prove people innocent.
Prosecutors conducted their own DNA test and agreed that Green could not have been the assailant. There are no new suspects.
The U.S. judicial system is the greatest in the world, "but nobody is going to say it's error-proof," Prosecutor Bill Mason said. "We have corrected a wrong by releasing him."