HOUSTON (KTRK) --Anthony Graves spent 18 years in prison for the murder of 6 people he did not commit. While on death row, he was scheduled for execution twice. Since being exonerated, in 2010 he's taken the opportunity to open new doors to right the wrongs of his conviction.
"You start to understand how important it was to have the opportunity to open up the door and go anywhere you wanted to go," said Graves. "See those are the things that are taken for granted out here, but when you are locked up for 6,640 days, you wish you had the opportunity to open up a door and go left or right."
Graves is on the board of directors for the Houston Forensic Science Center and frequently speaks on what he calls a broken criminal justice system.
"We have replaced justice with politics. People that are in our office, serving and protecting us are now politicians," said Graves. "You don't have a D.A. anymore, you just have a politican in the D.A.'s office. That breaks our system."
The 49-year-old also created the Anthony Graves Foundation. It's a non-profit he created from the money paid to him by the state for his years in prison. As part of the endeavor, he will open a medical clinic in southwest Houston targeting ex-offenders who leave prison with high risk diseases, such as hypertension, asthma, tuberculosis. The grand opening is in March.
"Somebody can get examined here and get your blood pressure checked," said Graves.
Nicole Casarez is a journalism professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, as well as chairwoman for the Houston Forensic Science Center. At the suggestion of the Innocence Network, Casarez had one of UST journalism classes investigate Graves' case. That work eventually resulted in the overturning of his conviction.
The Texas Innocence Network says more inmate exonerations could be on the horizon, especially for drug-related convictions in Harris County, which already leads the nation in exonerations.
"The drugs have actually been tested and when they were tested they were not always drugs or they were not always the drugs that were charged," said Casarez.
Graves says he never knew the grandmother, daughter and four grandchildren he was accused of murdering, However, his life is now intertwined with surviving family member Keith Davis.
"We are really good friends. We got the chance to sit down and talk about things and realize the games that was being played, on both of our families by a rogue prosecutor. We got over that and now we are like brothers because we are bonded by this story," he said.