Anthony Graves Becomes 12th Death Row Inmate Exonerated in Texas

Anthony Graves (pictured) was released from a Texas prison on October 27 after Washington-Burleson County District Attorney Bill Parham filed a motion to dismiss all charges that had resulted in Graves being sent to death row 16 years ago. Graves was convicted in 1994 of assisting Robert Carter in multiple murders in 1992. There was no physical evidence linking Graves to the crime, and his conviction relied primarily on Carter’s testimony that Graves was his accomplice. Two weeks before Carter was scheduled to be executed in 2000, he provided a statement saying he lied about Graves’s involvement in the crime. He repeated that statement minutes before his execution. In 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned Graves’s conviction and ordered a new trial after finding that prosecutors elicited false statements and withheld testimony that could have influenced the jurors. After D.A. Parham began to reassemble the case and review the evidence, he hired former Harris County assistant district attorney Kelly Siegler as a special prosecutor. Siegler soon realized that making a case against Graves would be impossible: "After months of investigation and talking to every witness who's ever been involved in this case, and people who've never been talked to before, after looking under every rock we could find, we found not one piece of credible evidence that links Anthony Graves to the commission of this capital murder. This is not a case where the evidence went south with time or witnesses passed away or we just couldn't make the case anymore. He is an innocent man," Siegler said.

(B. Rogers, "Prisoner ordered free from Texas' death row," Houston Chronicle, October 28, 2010; photo by www.anthonygraves.org).  Graves is the 12th person to be exonerated from Texas's death row since 1973 and the 139th such person in the country.  Only Florida and Illinois have had more exonerations during this time.  When Illinois had their 13th exoneration, the governor declared a moratorium on executions that continues to this day.  Click here for a full list of exonerees since 1973.  See Innocence.