Anthony Graves: Innocnet on death row
On August 22, 1992 I was arrested for the murders of six people and burning their house down to cover up the crime. The police came to my home one day and without being told what I was being charged with I was taken to the police station. I asked at my house and in the police car, but was told that I would be fully informed at the police station. On my arrival to the police station I was charged with the murders. When I asked why they thought I did it, they said that Robert Carter had told them that I was with him and helped him murder these people.
I didn't know who they were talking about. I didn't know anyone by that name. They took me to a holding cell and when they closed the door and I looked into the cell across from me, there he was. This man was married to my cousin, but he didn't know me. I had met him, but I didn't know him. I asked him why he had done this to me and he motioned for me to be quiet, pointing to a speaker in the cell. I told him that I didn't care, that I hadn't done anything wrong.
I was interrogated for hours and continued to plead my innocence. One of the officers said that he could already see the needle going into my arm and that is when I realized that these people wanted to kill me. I kept telling them that I didn't know anything about it, but they kept telling me that I did and trying to get me to say something that was not true.
Three weeks later there was a grand jury hearing. Robert Carter voluntarily went to speak to them against his attorney's advise and told them that he had lied and that I was innocent. He told them that he had made the whole thing up because he was scared. His wife had been arrested with him and was also charged in the crime. Five of the victims had been stabbed and beaten and one was shot, so they suspected that more than one person was involved.
Robert Carter was arrested after the family's funeral. He was covered in burns and bandages. He told them that he had gotten the burns while trying to put out a fire in his yard. The youngest child was his own son.
When I spoke to the grand jury I told them that I was innocent and told them that if they had any further questions they could call me back and that I would come without an attorney. I didn't feel that I needed to have an attorney if I hadn't done anything wrong.
My alibi witness, Yolanda Mathis, and her parents testified to the grand jury about my whereabouts on the night of the crime. I was at my mother's house with Yolanda and we spent that whole night together. My younger brother, Arthur, was there with us, and my younger sister, Dietrich was there, too.
Two weeks later I had a bond hearing and at the hearing a jailer and some local police officers said that I had made incriminating statements against myself in the holding cell. I was denied bond because of these false statements. A few weeks later the grand jury indicted me on capital murder charges.
I waited over two years for my trial to start. Robert Carter's trial was first in the early part of 1994. He was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection. On October 20, 1994 my trial began. Robert was brought in as a witness for the prosecution and he testified against me, giving a whole different story than the one they arrested me on. He told the court that the adult victim had gotten a promotion at work that my mother should have been given. He said that I had called him and we went together to the house of the victims. He said that he knocked on the door to talk to her and spent about 30 minutes talking to her and then said that he had something in his car that he wanted her to see. He said that then he came out to the car and got me. According to him, I went into the house and started shouting at the woman and when he comes back into the house there is blood everywhere. One of the kids, he said, comes into the front room where this has all just happened and he chases her to the back of the house and shoots her. He stated that is when he noticed the other bodies. (It came out in court that a deal was made that if Robert testified against me that they would not charge his wife and that if the charges against him were reversed, they would not seek the death penalty against him again.)
The first story that Robert gave that got me arrested was that I had wanted a girl to have sex with, so he took me to the house and I ran inside. He said that he was outside and heard screaming and came in and found blood everywhere and so, he said he got some gasoline and set the house on fire.
In the trial one officer and one jailer gave testimony that I had incriminated myself in the holding cell.
A former employer of mine, a few years before this crime took place had given me a souvenir knife as a gift. He had bought a set of two and he gave me one of them. An investigator found out that I used to own this knife, so they got his knife and testified in court that it fit the wounds of the victims, therefore the knife that I used to own could have possibly been the murder weapon. This knife was never found, and therefore never tested, so a kinfe just like it was used as evidence to convict me.
Yolanda Mathis, my alibi witness, was at my trial to testify that she was with me at my mother's house on the night of the crime. Just as my attorney was about to call her to the stand, the prosecutor asked the judge if he could clear the jury out of the courtroom so that he could put something in the record outside the presence of the jury. The judge granted this, and when the jury was cleared from the courtroom, the prosecutor stated that my alibi witness had become a suspect in this crime. He went on to say that if she chose to testify, it was possible that they would seek an indictment of capital murder against her. My attorney was so surprised by this that he went out of the courtroom and told her what the prosecutor had just said. She became so frightened that she refused to testify. She even refused to come into the courtroom. My brother testified that he was with us at my mother's house that night and that we had all stayed up late into the night talking. He told the court that Yolanda and I were sleeping on the living room floor and that to check the front door he had to step over us, but did make sure it was locked.
It was also discovered through testimony of my mother's supervisor that my mother had never even applied for the job the adult victim had promoted to. They worked in the same institution, but were employed in different capacities there.
Robert Carter's step-daughter, my cousin's daughter testified that Robert didn't even know me and that I had not been to their house since they had been married.
One of Robert Carter's neighbors testified that he had never seen me around Robert's house and that he had never seen us together.
On November 1, 1994 I was convicted of the murders and sentenced to die for a crime I did not commit.
On January 13, 1995 I was granted a post-conviction hearing on a motion for a new trial. During the hearing, my alibi witness took the stand and testified that she and I had been together the whole night that this crime was committed. She told them why she hadn't testified at the trial, because she was threatened by the prosecutor. The judge denied the motion for a new trial.
My case was sent to the court of criminal appeals and on April 23, 1997 the court of criminal appeals, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed my case.
November the 12th and December the 1st I was granted an evidentiary hearing. At this hearing, Dr. Harold Gill-King, who is the director of the laboratory for Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology, stated that a person can manipulate a blade once it is in the wound, and that the methods that were used to test this twin knife were unreliable. He stated that the methods they used had altered the evidence and that such tests could lead to false or misleading impressions of what the evidence actually showed. He also stated that the conclusions drawn from these testings used to support that a particular blade caused these defects are ill founded and not reliable.
Robert Carter recanted his testimony and he has stated the fact that I am innocent of this crime on video tape and in a written statement. He also states that he continuously told investigators, the prosecution and his attorney of my actual innocence but no one would listen to him. His recanted testimony was admitted to the court during the evidentiary hearing, but since he wasn't there to be cross-examined by the prosecutor, the judge would not admit it as evidence, nor would he admit the video taped statement into evidence.
All of this new evidence was filed into my state habeas and presented to the court of criminal appeals. After reviewing my case, the court set aside a rare date for oral argument in front of the nine judges. On February 3, 2000 the criminal court of appeals ruled against my case. Two of the judges said that my case should be granted relief.
During the trial my attorneys were very ineffective because once they heard the threat made to my alibi witness they became unraveled. They should have had her come in and testify to the court why she would not testify on my behalf. Without her coming in and telling them why she would not testify, it lead the jury to believe that I was lying about that night.
During closing arguments the prosecutor adressed the jury and asked them, "Where is this alibi witness that Mr. Graves claims to have been with? Why wasn't she here to testify?"
I sit on death row today waiting to be executed for a horrible crime that I did not commit, and unless I get some sort of attention drawn to my case, the state of Texas is going to murder me. On April 25 of this year, I was granted a stay of execution so that I could continue the appeals process. Time is running out and I need help.
Sincerely and Truthfully,
Update: Robert Carter was executed on May 31, 2000 by the state of Texas. Priior to his execution he gave an 85 page deposition to the court in which he said that Anthony had no part in the crime and was not there. In his final statement, on the gurney before he was executed he also said that Anthony is innocent of this crime.
Roy E. Greenwood, attorney
Anthony Graves #999127
12002 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351