New details after death row inmate freed

October 28, 2010 10:13:47 AM PDT
A former death row inmate spent his first morning free in 18 years Thursday. Anthony Graves was released from the county jail in Brenham Wednesday after the DA dropped all murder charges against him. Graves, 45, was convicted of assisting Robert Carter in the murders of a woman, her teenage daughter and her four grandchildren in Somerville in 1992.

Graves' brother says he always knew he was innocent. Arthur Curry, told us he was sleeping in the same house with Graves the night of the murders, and it was that information, along with additional research by investigators as well as special prosecutor and former Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler, which won Graves a new trial.

In a news conference, Siegler blasted former DA Charles Sebesta, saying he encouraged Ronald Carter to lie on the stand and grossly mishandled this case. It would all eventually lead to the charges being dropped altogether.

Washington-Burleson County District Attorney Bill Parham filed the motion, dismissing the charges against death row inmate Anthony Graves.

He'd been in prison for 18 years, convicted of the mass murder of a Somerville family in 1992, during which the victims' home was also set on fire.

Graves maintained his innocence and Parham, who was not the DA at the time, now agrees with him.

"We did shift from the possibility of maybe we don't have sufficient evidence to we have no evidence to the fact that we may have an innocent man," said Parham. "It's kind of a rare situation where prosecutors without the use of DNA or any other type of evidence that dispels guilt looks at a case and says, 'There's no evidence. This man is not guilty.'"

"Charles Sebesta handled this case in a way that would be best described as a criminal justice system's nightmare," said Siegler.

Eyewitness News spoke with Graves' brother and mother at their Brenham home on Wednesday night, just a short time after Graves' family greeted him. They say there have been feelings of bitterness along the way, but now there's joy, and his freedom has been a long time coming.

"We just have to get back to starting all over again. We have to start all over again because he can't get back what he lost; that's 18 years he lost," said Doris Curry, Graves' mother.

As for former DA Sebesta, he retired 12 years ago, and we have not had opportunity yet to seek his response to what was said in the news conference

As for Anthony Graves, he may talk to reporters later today so stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest.

Free after 18 years on death row

Anthony Graves walked out of a county jail in Brenham Wednesday afternoon. Graves was convicted of capital murder in 1994 after a jury found him guilty in the slaying of a woman, her daughter and four young grandchildren two years earlier.

Bobbie Joyce Davis, 46, Nicole Davis, Lea 'Erin Davis, Brittany Davis, Jason Davis and Denitra Davis were all stabbed repeatedly in their Somerville home in August 1992. Nicole Davis also was shot several times. The victims were then doused in gasoline and set on fire, causing their home to burn down.

Graves and two others -- Robert Earl Carter and Theresa Ray Carter -- were accused in the murders.

Robert Earl Carter reportedly testified against Graves during the trial. It was the only evidence tying Graves to the crime. Robert Earl Carter, who also was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death, admitted he lied in court on the night of his execution, which was more than 10 years ago.

His last words before his execution included, "To the Davis family, I am sorry for all of the pain that I caused your family. It was me and me alone. Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. I lied on him in court. Anthony Graves don't even know anything about it.

The original conviction was dropped in 2006 and Graves was set to be retried soon. But on Wednesday, the Washington-Burleson County district attorney said finally Graves is innocent and dismissed the charges against him.

Graves will now be eligible to get more than a million dollars from the state because of his wrongful imprisonment.


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