Anthony Graves is a free man once again. After spending 12 years on death row and the last four years in a Burleson County jail, Mr. Graves is free to wake up and go to sleep when he wants, to eat what he wants and to do what he wants.
Mr. Graves is a free man because the current Washington and Burleson County District Attorney realized it wasn't right to keep a man behind bars after the only witness against him recanted his testimony to prosecutors the night before trial. A trial that took place in 1994.
That's right. The original prosecutor, Charles Sebesta, knew before the trial ever commenced that he was suborning perjury from Robert Earl Carter, the actual killer. Two weeks before his execution in 2000, Mr. Carter signed a sworn statement saying that Mr. Graves had nothing to do with the murders. While he was strapped on the gurney in the death chamber, Mr. Carter once again stated that Mr. Graves had nothing to do with the murders.
And now, after holding Mr. Graves for four years pending a retrial, the District Attorney is ready to admit his office was wrong.
Mr. Graves was 26 when he was taken into custody and now he's 45. No amount of money can ever compensate him or his family for the 18 years that were taken away. No apology, no matter how profuse, can make up for the time that was stolen from him.
The prosecutors in this case are not to be honored as heroes. They were only doing what should have been done 16 years ago. There is no honor in that.
"Anthony Graves: Innocent and free 16 years after unfounded death sentence" Grits for Breakfast, Oct. 27, 2010
"Innocence lost" Texas Monthly, October 2010