Legal Ethics

Prosecutors Blast Ex-DA in 'Nightmare' Case of Innocent Man Jailed 18 Years

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Freed yesterday after spending 18 years in prison for a capital crime he did not commit, Anthony Graves was initially convicted because of a “nightmare” of prosecutorial misconduct that included withholding evidence and threatening witnesses, Texas prosecutors said in a press conference today.

DA Bill Parham of Washington and Burleson counties dismissed murder charges against Graves, after a special prosecutor who reinvestigated the case found no evidence linking the defendant to the slayings of a mother and five children in 1992 for which he was sent to death row, reports the Houston Chronicle.

A co-defendant who has since been executed previously testified that Graves was his accomplice but later recanted, reportedly saying that he had implicated Graves because he knew he had an alibi.

“He’s an innocent man,” Parham said of Graves, whose conviction was overturned by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006. “There is nothing that connects Anthony Graves to this crime. I did what I did because that’s the right thing to do.”

In a press conference today, special prosecutor Kelly Siegler, who reinvestigated the case for Parham, described the original prosecution by a predecessor DA as a “horrible” miscarriage of justice, reports another Houston Chronicle article.

“Charles Sebesta handled this case in a way that could best be described as a criminal justice system’s nightmare,” said Siegler. “It’s a travesty, what happened in Anthony Graves’ trial.”

Sebesta, however, says claims of prosecutorial misconduct are “really stretching” and contends that he prosecuted Graves believing he was guilty—as he apparently still may, according to the newspaper.

In 2009, Sebesta took out newspaper ads describing Graves as “cold-blooded,” in response to media criticism, and he asks that those wondering what occurred look at the evidence, pointing out that Graves was initially convicted after a jury trial.

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