Criminal Justice

Texas Declines Compensation for Wrongly Convicted Man Who Spent 18 Years on Death Row

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I first wrote about the Anthony Graves case last October. He was released after 18 years on death row. He was convicted of helping Robert Earl Carter kill six people in 1992. Graves was convicted based on testimony from Carter (which Cater later recanted) and police officers who claimed to have overheard jailhouse chatter implicating Graves.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which initially granted Graves a new trial, went out of its way to point out the prosecutorial misconduct of then-DA Charles Sebasta, including withholding exculpatory evidence and knowingly putting on false evidence.

Bill Parham, the DA for Washington and Burleson counties and the man who dropped the charges against Graves, told the Houston Chronicle last year: "He's an innocent man. There is nothing that connects Anthony Graves to this crime. I did what I did because that's the right thing to do."

Unfortunately, the court order allowing Graves to be released didn't include the word "innocent", a word usually reserved for DNA exonerations. Under Texas law, that means Graves is ineligible for compensation for a wrongful conviction.