That's the title of Pamela Colloff's 14,000 word examination of the case of Anthony Graves, noted yesterday.
It's subtitled, "Since August 23, 1992, Anthony Graves has been behind bars for the gruesome murder of a family in Somerville. There was no clear motive, no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, and the only witness against him recanted, declaring again and again before his death, in 2000, that Graves didn’t do it. If he didn’t, the truth will come out. Won’t it?"
Here's a small excerpt from this must-read:
Graves, who had moved back to Brenham from Austin that spring after getting laid off from an assembly line job at Dell, was picked up before noon at his mother’s apartment and brought to the Brenham police station in handcuffs. In the station’s booking room, a surveillance camera captured the half hour that passed as the 26-year-old—who was never told why he was being detained—waited, bewildered. He repeatedly asked an officer who busied himself with paperwork what he was being held for, but he was informed that he would have to wait until a magistrate arrived to read him the charges. Graves turned his attention to another officer, who he hoped would be more forthcoming, but the man feigned ignorance. “You don’t know neither?” Graves said, sighing. “I wish somebody would tell me what’s going on.” When the justice of the peace finally appeared, Graves jumped to his feet, eager for information.
“You’re Anthony Charles Graves?” asked the justice of the peace, glancing up from the warrant that she held before her. She was flanked by two police officers.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said.
“Anthony, this is going to be your warning of rights,” she said. Her delivery was matter-of-fact: “You’re charged with the offense of capital murder.”
“Who?” he said, dumbfounded. He stared back at her blankly.
“An affidavit charging you for this offense has been filed in court,” she continued. As she read him his Miranda rights, he watched her in disbelief. “At this time, no bond has been set,” she said. “Do you understand what I’ve told you, Anthony?”
Graves held up his hands in protest. “Capital murder?” he said, incredulous. “Me? Wh-wh-who murdered? I mean—”
A man wearing a white Western hat interrupted him. “You’ll have a chance to talk to the officers who are actually working the case,” he said.
“This is a big mistake,” Graves said, his voice rising. “Capital murder?” Dubious, he turned to the police officer who had brought him down to the station. “This is a joke,” he said, breaking into a grin, as if he were suddenly on to the elaborate prank that he seemed certain was being played on him. “Somebody’s messing with me, right?” The officer, who did not smile back, ordered him to have a seat.
Graves studied the copy of the arrest warrant that the judge had handed to him, trying to make sense of it. He repeated the words “capital murder” eighteen times, enunciating each syllable as if doing so would help him better grasp their meaning. “This is a big mistake,” he repeated. “This has got to be straightened out today.” Finally, before he was led down the hall to talk to the Rangers, he slapped the side of his head and cried out, “Am I dreaming?”
On September 6, 2006, Graves walked off of death row. But there was no celebration beyond the floodlights and the coils of concertina wire, no crush of television reporters shouting questions, no tearful embrace with his mother, whom he had been allowed to touch just once during his fourteen years of incarceration. Instead, Graves walked out of his six-by-ten-foot concrete cell and into the arms of Burleson County sheriff’s deputies, who transported him back to the county jail in Caldwell, where he would await retrial. The Fifth Circuit’s ruling had not exonerated him, and he still faced the original criminal charges that had been filed against him in 1992. In the eyes of Burleson County, he remained a murderer, and a child killer at that. Judge Towslee’s successor—his daughter, Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett—set his bail at $1 million.
The article notes that his new trial is currently scheduled for February 2011.
Earlier coverage begins here.