Criminal Justice

Freed after 18 years, ex-inmate uses wrongful incarceration cash to honor lawyer who helped free him

Former death-row inmate Anthony Graves is trying to spend $1.45 million wisely, for the most part.

Before his exoneration, Graves spent 18 years behind bars for the 1992 slayings of a mother, her daughter, and her four grandchildren. The Texas Legislature awarded Graves $1.45 million for wrongful incarceration, and he has been mostly careful with the money, Texas Monthly reports in a story noted by the Huffington Post. He did buy himself a BMW convertible, but he also helped his mother rebuild her house and started a foundation to help children whose parents are in prison.

Now he has decided on a new use for some of the money—honoring the lawyer and journalism professor who fought to free him for eight years. Graves told Texas Monthly he wanted to repay Nicole Cásarez, but he knew she would never accept his money. He opted instead to create a scholarship in her honor at her alma mater, the University of Texas Law School. The gift was revealed at a party.

Graves handed Cásarez a framed certificate indicating the school had established the scholarship with Graves’ gift “to honor his defender, friend, sister, and angel, to recognize her and her students’ work to exonerate him from a wrongful conviction, and to encourage others to follow her example of hope, perseverance, courage, and humility.”

Graves was set to be retried for capital murder, but prosecutors dismissed the charges in October 2010 after a special prosecutor who reinvestigated the case, Kelly Siegler, found no evidence linking Graves to the slayings. A co-defendant had originally testified that Graves was an accomplice, but he later recanted. Siegler called the original prosecution a “horrible” miscarriage of justice.

Updated at 8:30 a.m. to add missing word.

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