Dressed in a white sweater vest and black slacks, Anthony Graves , 45, received a $3,000 check from the president of the Texas Moratorium Network at a family member’s home in Pflugerville this afternoon to help him get assimilated back into society.Graves spent the last 18 years, almost half of his life, sitting on death row for six murders he did not commit.“Whatever you think hell is to you, that’s what it is,” said Graves of his time on death row. “That was my experience. It’s just hell.”In 1992, a grandmother, her daughter and four grandchildren were killed. Their Somerville, Texas, home was set on fire to cover up the crime.Robert Earl Carter, the father of one of the children killed, was convicted of capital murder and given the death penalty.Carter told authorities he did not act alone and implicated Graves as his accomplice. He later testified against Graves at trial.Graves went to prison – he was 26 years old. All the while, he maintained his innocence.Prior to his execution in 2000, Carter recanted and said Graves had nothing to do with the murders.An appeals court overturned Graves’ conviction in 2006, when they found prosecutors obtained false information from witnesses at trial.“I experienced the dark side of our criminal justice system,” Graves explained.Citing a lack of evidence, it took until last month for prosecutors to decide not to retry Graves.
He was freed from prison.Now, Graves told KXAN he is not bitter and wants to use his experience to fix what he calls a ‘broken’ criminal justice system.“I just want to go out and make a difference. I want to be a part of a solution,” Graves explained.Anthony is looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with his family – then tackling a world that he says has changed so much since he has been gone.“I am having a hard time with technology just a cell phone. A cell phone just does so much now,” Graves said.Graves also hope to return to school and obtain a degree in communications.He will put the $3,000 he received today towards clothing, medical care and other basic necessities. Graves, however, is now be eligible to get more than a million dollars from the state because of his wrongful imprisonment.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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