Anthony Graves spent 18 years behind bars for murders he did not commit. For 18 long years, he fought for justice. Finally free from death row, he wanted to do something for the defense attorney who stood beside him.
"This woman did something extraordinary," Graves said. "She did something I think exemplifies who we should be."
Nicole Casarez, now a professor at the University of St. Thomas, spent eight and a half years defending Graves, who was sentenced to death for the 1992 murders of a grandmother and five children in Somerville.
"There was no evidence of his guilt," Casarez said. "There was evidence of his innocence. The evidence of his innocence was credible."
Graves was released from prison in October 2010, when the state dropped the charges against him. With part of the $1.4 million he collected from his wrongful imprisonment, Graves created a scholarship fund in Casarez's name at the University of Texas, a gift he kept secret until he presented her with a plaque this past weekend.
"It was unbelievable," she said. "I mean, I was speechless."
"The expression on her face was just priceless," Graves said. "You couldn't script it any better."
Graves is writing a book and speaking about his experience around the country. He hopes the scholarships that bear Casarez' name produce more lawyers like her.
He said, "She stood up for justice and she turned over every rock to find it. And I felt that was a legacy that should live on forever."
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