Wrongfully convicted Texas man to get $1.4M

Texas governor signs bill authorizing payment to Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in prison for murders he didn't commit

A Texas man wrongly imprisoned for nearly two decades for the killings of a grandmother and five children that he did not commit will be paid $1.4 million.

Anthony Graves will receive compensation after Gov. Rick Perry signed a law with a provision specifically addressing his case. The Houston Chronicle reports the bill authorizes payments for Graves for 18 years, the amount of time he was behind bars. A 2009 law says exonerees can receive $80,000 for every year they were imprisoned.

Graves said Wednesday he's grateful to Perry, but that the money "doesn't even come close" to making up for the time he spent in prison. "I lost 18 years of my life," he said. "It wasn't like I hit the lottery."

Perry, who signed the bill Friday, has said the years that the now-45-year-old spent in prison represent "a great miscarriage of justice."

In April, CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" featured the case of the death row inmate, and the dedication of a group of Texas college students who worked on his behalf through the Innocence Network. After a four-year investigation that included talking to more than 100 witnesses, the students concluded that Anthony Graves was an innocent man.

"If it hadn't been for '48 Hours Mystery,' I don't think I would be getting my compensation," Graves said on Tuesday. "They laid out my case for the whole world to see and as a result it made Texas do the right thing. I owe it all to '48 Hours,' for first taking an interest in my case, seeing the injustice for what it was, and then showing the rest of the world."

48 Hours Mystery: Grave Injustice
Texas Monthly: Innocence Lost

In 2006, a federal appeals court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial for Graves, who has maintained his innocence since his arrest at age 27.

The only evidence tying Graves to the killings in Somerville, about 100 miles northwest of Houston, was testimony from a co-defendant that is now known to be false.

Photos: Somerville murders
Video: Remembering the victims

He was declared innocent by a special prosecutor in October 2010, but Graves was denied compensation by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs because the order detailing his exoneration lacks the phrase "actual innocence."

Graves filed a lawsuit in February against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the state's top law enforcement officer, seeking a declaratory judgment of innocence that would pave the way for him to receive the compensation. Graves' attorney, Jeff Blackburn, said Wednesday he will press on with the suit even though the money issue has been resolved.

"Without a declaration of innocence, Anthony will never have his name and reputation restored," said Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas. "He will always be a man convicted of capital murder. He has the right to have that stigma removed."

Graves, who lives in Austin, said having the money will mean he can finally help his mother, whose health is declining. "My mother did the whole 18 years with me," he said. "No one has compensated her, so I will do that."

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