Charles Sebesta Sleazebag District Attorney of the Century

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Charles Sebesta Sleazebag District Attorney of the Century

Postby WaTcHeR » 05 Nov 2010, Fri 10:23 pm

After 18 years of incarceration and countless protestations of innocence, Anthony Graves finally got a nod of approval from the one person who mattered Wednesday and at last returned home — free from charges that he participated in the butchery of a family in Somerville he did not know and free of the possibility that he would have to answer for them with his life.

The district attorney for Washington and Burleson counties, Bill Parham, gave Graves his release. The prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss charges that had sent Graves to Texas' death row for most of his adult life. Graves returned to his mother's home in Brenham no longer the "cold-blooded killer," so characterized by the prosecutor who first tried him, but as another exonerated inmate who even in the joy of redemption will face the daunting prospect of reassembling the pieces of a shattered life.

"He's an innocent man," Parham said, noting that his office investigated the case for five months. "There is nothing that connects Anthony Graves to this crime. I did what I did because that's the right thing to do."

An attorney for Graves, Jimmy Phillips Jr., said his client was released from Burleson County Jail, where he had been awaiting a retrial, at about 5:30 p.m.

Graves immediately went to see his mother in Brenham and reportedly spent the night near Austin. "The first place he wanted to go is to go hug his mama," Phillips said. "He is a free man, and he's home."

Graves called his mother to tell her he was coming home. Doris Curry left the house to pick up her youngest son, and by the time she returned home, Graves was already there, surrounded by family and friends.

"I hugged him and I hugged him and I cried and we both cried and we hugged and we cried," Curry said. "He said: 'Mama, it's over. Mama, 18 years we've fought this fight a long time. It's over. Justice has been done for me.' "

The 62-year-old woman said she never doubted the innocence of Graves, the eldest of her five children.

"A mother knows her child," she said. "I know what kind of person he was. He wasn't that person they built him up to be."
'He's lost a lot'

Curry said there is no way to ever fill the void of Graves' 18 years in prison, close to half his life. It is time gone that cannot be retrieved, she said.

"But he can build his life on what he has and move on," she said. "He's lost a lot. He was 26 years old when they took him. Now he's 45. He's got grandchildren he's never touched."

Graves' youngest brother, Arthur Curry, testified in vain at his 1994 trial, telling jurors that Graves had been at home sleeping at the time when the murders occurred. Jurors did not believe him, so his brother's return home carried a deep, personal significance.

"The sun couldn't shine any brighter," Curry, now 37, said. "It's just like celebrating a resurrection, almost, because it was almost like a death in our family. But it was a slow death, continuously, just waiting for that demise."
'I lied on him in court'

Graves was convicted of assisting Robert Earl Carter in the slaying of Bobbie Davis, 45; her 16-year-old daughter, Nicole; and Davis' four grandchildren, ages 4 to 9, on Aug. 18, 1992. Carter was executed in 2000. Two weeks before his death, he provided a sworn statement saying that his naming of Graves as an accomplice was a lie.

He repeated the statement while strapped to the gurney minutes before his death: "Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. ... I lied on him in court."

Charles Sebesta, then the district attorney, did not believe Carter. Even after he no longer held the post, Sebesta held to his beliefs, calling Graves "cold-blooded" and taking out an ad in two Burleson County newspapers in 2009 to dispute media reports criticizing the conduct of prosecutors.

The evidence against Graves was never overwhelming, depending mostly on Carter's earlier accusation and jailhouse statements purportedly overheard by law enforcement officers. Even Sebesta acknowledged it was not his strongest case.

"I've had some slam-dunk cases," he said in 2001. "It was not a slam-dunk case."

Graves' appellate attorneys, Jay Burnett and Roy Greenwood, knew it was far less. They soon were convinced their client had no knowledge of or participation in the crime, just as he had claimed since the moment of his arrest.

Over the years, there was increasing evidence raised to doubt the validity of the conviction. Students in a University of St. Thomas journalism class worked with The Innocence Project at the University of Houston to review the Graves case in detail.

Nicole Casarez, the journalism professor who taught the class, and one of her students interviewed Carter's brother, whose affidavit along with other evidence they gathered helped persuade the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to order a hearing, which eventually led to the new trial.

"I think the dismissal motion filed this morning says it best: There is no credible evidence to inculpate this defendant," Casarez said Wednesday night. "I’m just thrilled that it has finally come to this. I think it was a lot of people working very hard, perhaps even divine intervention, so that it all worked out today."
Siegler was to prosecute

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Graves’ conviction in 2006. A three-judge panel said he deserved a new trial after ruling that prosecutors elicited false statements from two witnesses and withheld two statements that could have changed the minds of jurors.

Graves eventually was returned to county jail with a bond set at $1 million, and Parham began to reassemble the case and review the evidence. He hired former Harris County assistant district attorney Kelly Siegler as a special prosecutor. Siegler soon saw that making a case against Graves was all but impossible.

"After months of investigation and talking to every witness who's ever been involved in this case, and people who've never been talked to before, after looking under every rock we could find, we found not one piece of credible evidence that links Anthony Graves to the commission of this capital murder," Siegler said Wednesday.

It was not that the case had gone moldy over the years, she said, but that it never really existed in the first place.

"This is not a case where the evidence went south with time or witnesses passed away or we just couldn't make the case anymore," Siegler said. "He is an innocent man."



http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/met ... 66470.html
"Cops that lie, need to die!" A police officer that lies to get an arrest or send someone to prison should be shot.

"In the U.S., a cop with a gun can commit the most heinous crime and be given the benefit of the doubt."

"The U.S. Government does not have rights, it has privileges delegated to it by the people."
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Re: Charles Sebesta Sleazebag District Attorney of the Centu

Postby WaTcHeR » 05 Nov 2010, Fri 10:24 pm

Anthony Graves spent 18 years in prison in Texas because of prosecutorial misconduct. Mark Bennett has been documenting the story admirably; read his work and follow his links to the searing Texas Monthly story about the case.

Anthony Graves was accused of a horrific mass murder. He was accused despite an utter lack of physical evidence: rather, he was accused based on the uncorroborated word of a man who admitted to participating in the murder, and based upon an expert's opinion that Graves' knife, among many other knives, was "consistent" with the weapon used in the killings. Graves was tried and convicted despite the fact that the actual murderer — Robert Carter, Graves' accuser — recanted and admitted that Graves had nothing to do with it. You'd think that would matter to a jury. Perhaps it would have — but multiple courts found that prosecutor Charles Sebesta didn't disclose that his star witness, the only witness establishing that Graves had anything to do with the murder, had recanted and exonerated Graves, then flip-flopped again in time to testify against him. The actual murderer, Robert Carter, went to his execution declaring that Graves was innocent. Yet Texas courts rejected Graves' appeals. It took the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reverse the conviction. This week, the special prosecutor assigned to the matter dismissed charges against Graves, and he walked free after 18 years of incarceration.

Carter was patently a killer and a liar, uncorroborated by relevant evidence. But the jury bought his story — because the government told them to, and when the government wears the prosecutor's hat, people trust it. The proposition that the government's concealment of Carter's recantation was irrelevant is facially ridiculous — yet Texas courts bought it, because judges are people too, and when the government wears the prosecutor's hat, people trust it. Prosecutor Charles Sebesta — who took out an advertisement in the paper defending the conviction — still has his supporters, and many will say that this result is an example of clever lawyers getting criminals off on a "technicality" — because the government accused Graves of a crime, and when the government wears the prosecutor's hat, people trust it. I suspect that if you said to many of those people "when the government decides how much taxes you should pay, or how you should run your business, or what kind of health care plan you ought to have, you should trust the government," those people would react with disgust, seeing that statement as morally treasonous and displaying a canine level of devotion to the state. But tell them that defense lawyers spin bullshit to get the guilty off the hook, and they'll nod sagely and agree. It's a cultural thing. Some people identify more with folks who like to shoot dogs, and some people identify more with folks who like to tell you that you can't buy dogs.

Giving the government the power to do things we like tends to give the government the power to do things we don't like. In a perfect world, conservatives would see that reposing uncritical trust in prosecutors and cops ultimately promotes the government's power to regulate their businesses and their health care. Liberals would see that trusting regulators and bureaucrats increases the government's power to jail citizens upon flimsy evidence. Maybe one day more people will meet in the middle and recognize that the appropriate stance of an informed citizen towards all elements of the government is vigilance, skepticism, and firm support of individual rights against the state. Perhaps more people will agree that the correct response to any government attempt to control the individual is to question: "What evidence do you have to support this? Is it really believable? Can it be trusted? Is it enough?"
"Cops that lie, need to die!" A police officer that lies to get an arrest or send someone to prison should be shot.

"In the U.S., a cop with a gun can commit the most heinous crime and be given the benefit of the doubt."

"The U.S. Government does not have rights, it has privileges delegated to it by the people."
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