Texas Prosecutor Who Sent Innocent Man To Death Row Learns His Fate

| by Sheena Vasani
Anthony GravesAnthony Graves

Officials disbarred a Texas prosecutor Feb. 8 for sending an innocent man to death row for 12 years.

Authorities accused Charles Sebesta of presenting tainted evidence and false statements that led to Anthony Graves’ wrongful murder conviction, Reuters reports.

"In rejecting Sebesta's argument, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals found that Charles Sebesta's misconduct was so egregious that they characterized him as having 'unclean hands.' That certainly is a fitting description," said Neal Manne, one of Graves’ lawyers.

Graves spent 18 years in jail, 12 of which were on death row, after being erroneously convicted of starting a fire that killed a grandmother and five children in 1992, The Guardian reports. He was released from prison and his sentence reversed in 2010.

“I’ve missed so much,” Graves told Texas Monthly. “My children are all grown. I have grandkids I’ve never touched. I’ve been alive for the past 18 years, but I haven’t lived” he said.

Sebesta both withheld information and presented false testimony that -- in the absence of physical evidence -- later played a crucial role in convicting Graves of the crime.

The former prosecutor had convicted another man, Robert Carter, for the murders, but told Carter to say Graves was his accomplice.

"Sebesta never disclosed this information to the defense," the board said.

Carter told Sebesta that Graves was innocent.

“I said ‘Anthony Graves’ off of the top of my head,” Carter said. “They told me they would cut me a deal, that I could walk if I give up a name, if I give up a story, and that’s what I did.”

Sebasta defends his decision and believes he is being unfairly treated.

"I am concerned about the process," he said. "My opinion is that we presented the evidence we had and felt like it was sufficient," he said of the Graves case.

Graves is one of many wrongfully convicted of crimes and sentenced to death.

A study from 2014 revealed at least 4.1 percent of Americans sentenced to death since the 1970s are innocent, reports The Guardian.

In raw numbers, that means from 1973 to 2004, 340 prisoners were wrongfully sentenced to death.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian (2), Texas Monthly / Photo credit: Houston Chronicle

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