Innocent Man Serves 18 Years, State Denies Compensation

(KRLD/CBSDFW.COM) – An innocent man who spent 18 years in prison is being denied state compensation because of a technicality.

Anthony Graves was sent to death row after being convicted of slaughtering a Burleson County family of six back in 1992.

“It was just hell, because for years you scream at the top of your lungs, ya know, that this is a mistake and that you’re innocent and nobody listens,” Graves said frustrated.

Graves conviction was overturned due to lack of evidence but not before he spent more than 12 years on death row and then another four years in the Burleson County Jail waiting for a retrial – that never came.

A special prosecutor actually had to step in and clear Graves of any wrongdoing.

“The DA and special prosecutor had press conferences where they said ‘He is innocent. It’s not that we just didn’t have enough evidence, it’s that there is no evidence’,” Graves attorney, Nicole Casarez, said of the states actions.

And that’s the problem. The court order that the county prosecutor issued to release Graves doesn’t say the words “actual innocence”, as required by the state. The order only says there is no evidence to convict. Because of that, the State Comptroller’s office is refusing to pay Graves the $1.4 in compensation the state owes him.

Casarez says changing the wording on the court order isn’t as easy as one might think. “At this point once the judge dismissed the charges he lost jurisdiction. There is no case. The case doesn’t exist anymore.”

Kelly Siegler, the special prosecutor who recommended dropping the charges against Graves, said the compensation law likely was designed for cases involving wrongful DNA convictions, not ones thrown out by prosecutors after a re-examination of evidence.

The circumstances do little to comfort Graves. “It’s disappointing, because to me that means I have to continuously fight the state for justice and that means the compensation that is due to me because of the injustice that was done over a period of 18 years,” he said.

The only evidence that ever tied Graves to the murders came from his co-defendant, Robert Earl Carter, who absolved Graves shortly before he was executed 10 years ago.

Last week Governor Perry vowed to step up and help Graves get the justice he deserves. Perry told reporters in Galveston that he would intervene on Graves behalf, either through the legislature or directly through the Comptrollers office.

Although Graves says he is grateful for any assistance, it’s seems almost too little too late. “There’s no money that an ever amount up to losing 18 years of my life and being threatened to be murdered everyday,” he said. “Nothing could ever, ever make up for that. I want to receive justice so that I can put my life together and move forward.”

Under the Tim Cole Compensation Act, named for a wrongly convicted Fort Worth man, those falsely imprisoned are entitled to $80,000 for each year of confinement.

Update –  March 1, 2011: Anthony Graves spoke with 1080 KRLD about the latest developments in his quest to receive compensation from the State of Texas.

  • Innocent Man Serves 18 Years, State Denies Compensation « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Innocent Man Serves 18 Years, State Denies Compensation An innocent man who spent 18 years in prison is being denied state compensation. The words “actual innocence” aren’t printed on a court order for Anthony Graves, so the state won’t pay him the $1.4 million due him. Go to News Source […]

  • Ron

    Equally at fault is the brutha that committed the murders but refused to step forward and take responsibility for his violent act, allowing Mr Graves to wrongly sit in prison for 18 yrs instead. He could have come forward and said, “You have the wrong man. I’m the one that did it.”

    • Jimmy

      How do you know, this man did’nt do the crime. Too many people are being pulled out of prison and all of a sudden,they were all innocent. come on,people

    • Deja

      actually he did.. but only before he was executed.. sad case.. he deserves the money..

  • say it ain't so

    If he were black he would get the money…just sayin

    • schrodinger

      Guess what? He IS black. Just sayin’…

  • Louann Smith

    Race has NOTHING to do w/the “technicality” that is involved! I do not understand why freedom of speech includes bigots!

    • schrodinger

      @ Louann, “Race has NOTHING to do w/the “technicality” that is involved! ”

      That was my point. :)

  • arthur felice

    whoever sent him to death roll . in the first place are just as bad as the one who did it for real. we say we have laws that are just .we allmost killed a man for nothing . so lets do the right thing and pay the man and let him live the rest of his life in peace. i dont know the man i just like to say im sory.for what he had to live. and to the gov. of that state i like to say im keeping an eye on how you make this right. im just sayin

  • schrodinger

    I bet the prosecutor that wrote this decision, and who is IMMUNE from suit, was white. Where’s HIS accountability?

    From the article–“The DA and special prosecutor had press conferences where they said ‘He is innocent. It’s not that we just didn’t have enough evidence, it’s that there is no evidence’,” Graves attorney, Nicole Casarez, said of the states actions.

    If the man truly is innocent and there really was no evidence to convict, and then the case was dismissed (leading to the denial) then he deserves to be compensated. Same as anyone else.

  • artuhr felice

    i new one would come out soon or latter

  • oldman

    I thought I had lived long enough to see and hear most of the stupidity that the human race is capable of but when I read what Jimmy Mooneyham wrote I guess the human race has hit another bottom of the cess pool mo0ment.what a sad person

  • mikey

    I dont know much about this case, but wrongly convicting some one of a crime should also be a crime. Perhaps this would curb the all too often occurrence of “just throwing some one in prison to take the fall so the rest of us look like we did our jobs”. I agree….restitution is in need for those that our justice system fails.

  • Texas Legend

    What the hell happened to “you are innocent” until proven guilty? Clearly, this man is either innocent or guilty. Once the charges were dismissed, this man is officially innocent. What is so difficult about this???

    • schrodinger

      Yes, he’s innocent– but a loophole in the law lets the state weasel out of its responsibility to this man. Another loophole, known as Section 1983 (Google it, if you aren’t familiar), grants immunity and allows these prosecutors to escape any sort of accountablility for their actions– setting any or all of us up to be framed and hung out to dry.

  • Cortney Sean Grissom

    Wow this is sad, 18 years of his life lost….18 years of people thinking you killed someone, and not only thinking you killed someone, but knowning deep down inside you killed someone iis something that no amount of money can fix. I wish this man this best, and hopes he gets the cash….though I doubt it will give him the peace he seeks.

  • john

    sue the state of texas and the county that put you there including the da and judge and if no one wants to pay put the da and judge in prison for 18 years

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