Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Death Row Exoneree Anthony Graves Receives $3,000 Donation From Texas Moratorium Network

KVUE's Jennie Huerta reported on our delivery of $3,000 in donations we collected from Texas Moratorium Network's supporters and friends from across Texas, other U.S. states and other countries. Scott Cobb, president of TMN, and friends from Campaign to End the Death Penalty and Witness to Innocence delivered the donations to Anthony on Saturday, November 20. Watch the video on YouTube.

From KVUE:
Anthony Graves is grateful for his freedom and a donation from anti-death penalty group the Texas Moratorium Network.  The donation is to help him start a new life.   
“This is about humanity coming forward so I am very grateful for that,” Graves said.  “It's a bigger picture than the check that has been written, so I am very grateful for the show of humanity.”
The donation is a token, compared what Graves could receive from the State.
He was wrongfully convicted of the 1992 murders of a family of six in the Central Texas town of Sommerville. 
Graves' conviction was based solely on testimony from the real killer, Robert Earl Carter, who recanted before he was executed in 2000.  Journalism students from The University of St. Thomas in Houston later conducted research that would lead to Graves' freedom.  The State could now give Graves 1.5M dollars for his ordeal.
“I was basically kidnapped by the criminal justice system and put on Texas Death Row,” Graves says.
Texas executes more inmates than any other state in the nation.  It is also the most generous state when it comes to compensating the wrongly convicted.  Last year the Texas Legislature increased the amount to 80,000 dollars for each year of wrongful imprisonment.  And just this month, the IRS ruled that it will no longer collect income tax on such compensation.
“I had an intense 18 years of living because of an injustice, so this one-point-four million is a small number, compared to what I've had to give up.” 
Graves says he won't give up on getting justice for himself.  He is going back to court next week.  This time, it is to ask the judge to begin the legal process of getting what the State says he's due.
As part of his compensation, the State could also give Graves a free, four-year college education.  He says he wants to study communication, and become an advocate for others like himself.

Watch video on YouTube.

From KXAN:
 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. 

No comments: