Burleson Co. Judge: $1 Million to Free Graves

On the heels of a ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the state to set a bond for Anthony Graves – whose murder conviction and death sentence the appellate court overturned earlier this year – or free him on a bond set previously by a federal district judge, state Burleson Co. District Judge Reva Townslee Corbett on Dec. 20 set Graves’ bond at $1 million.

The six-figure bond is a far cry from the $50,000 bail set by U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent in November – a bond that would’ve allowed Graves to walk away from prison after 12 years on death row for just $5,000 up front, while the state prepares to retry him on capital murder charges for the murder of six people – four of them children under 10 – and for the arson prosecutors say was set to cover the crime.

Graves has maintained his innocence, but was fingered as an accomplice to the 1992 multiple murder by Robert Carter, who was convicted of the crime and executed in 2000. Before he was put to death Carter recanted, saying he acted alone and that Graves was innocent – moreover, evidence now suggests that during the original murder investigation Carter tried more than once tried to clear Graves of any involvement in the slayings. Finding that prosecutors withheld crucial witness statements from Graves’ defense attorneys during his 1994 trial, the federal appellate court tossed his conviction and death sentence in March, meaning Graves’ case is now back in state court where prosecutors say they’ll retry him.

Although the state – led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office – sought to keep Graves behind bars until he could be retried, arguing, in part, that Graves is too dangerous to be set free, the 5th Circuit on Dec. 18 rejected that argument and ordered bond to be set no later than Jan. 4. Given that the appellate court wasn’t persuaded by the state’s insistence that Graves was too risky to free, it is unlikely that they’ll find the $1 million bond a reasonable compromise – indeed, the figure would require Graves to post $100K in order to be released. The Townslee Corbett-imposed bail is clearly a prohibitively high sum – and, as such, a Constitutional violation – and seems designed to let the state have its way in spite of the appellate court ruling. In other words, Townslee Corbett’s thumbing her nose at the federal judiciary – a decision that is sure to spark yet another appeal, this time by Graves’ attorneys, seeking intervention from the federal bench – relief that would, hopefully, come with a sizable dose of knuckle-rapping, black-robed disapproval.

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Death Penalty, Anthony Graves, Reva Townslee Corbett, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

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