Exonerated death row inmate takes on his former prosecutor in Texas

HOUSTON — Anthony Graves survived 18 years in prison for murders he did not commit, a dozen of those years on death row, where he was twice scheduled for execution.

On Wednesday, Graves stood defiant outside a courthouse in a blue pinstripe suit with several state lawmakers and announced that the State Bar of Texas would be investigating his complaint against the prosecutor who convicted him, Charles Sebesta.

“Give us justice,” said Graves, 48, of Houston.

The announcement was the latest salvo in a legal battle that the two men have been fighting for two decades.

Sebesta, 73, the former district attorney in rural Burleson County, about 100 miles northwest of Houston, has defended his record and insists that despite Graves’ exoneration, he is guilty.

“They’re bringing in politicians, members of the Legislature, in an attempt to intimidate the state bar,” Sebesta said Wednesday. “This matter’s over.”

Some legal experts do not agree with that assessment, including members of the state prosecutors’ association.

Two years ago, the Texas District and County Attorneys Assn. issued a report that found errors in the Graves case that raised “serious questions about prosecutor misconduct,” including “tunnel vision on the part of the prosecutor” who focused on Graves early on and “stuck to that initial conclusion in the face of many contradictory circumstances.”

The state bar will now decide whether Sebesta committed misconduct.

Graves was convicted in 1994 of killing a 45-year-old woman, her 16-year-old daughter and four grandchildren in a single stoplight town about 90 miles northwest of Houston in 1992. The victims were variously beaten, stabbed, strangled and shot.

The sole witness to the crime, Robert Carter, was also charged and initially implicated Graves, but later recanted.

Sebesta said he did not withhold a statement from Carter, and that it was the job of Graves’ attorney to question Carter more closely.

Both Carter and Graves were convicted. Carter was executed in 2000. Sebesta retired the same year.

Read more here: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texas-exonerated-20140305,0,2130622.story#ixzz2vDMBF5U2

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