Federal Judge Poised to Release Anthony Graves on Bond
Rebuke to state court keeping Graves imprisoned
By Jordan Smith,
5:52PM, Thu. Jan. 4, 2007
It appears that the feds have had enough of state District Judge Reva Towslee Corbett and the rest of the state prosecutorial entourage that has been fighting to keep Texas Death Row inmate Anthony Graves behind bars. On Dec. 29, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner issued a bench warrant for Graves, pulling him from Burleson Co. jail and back to federal court in Galveston for a hearing tomorrow (Jan. 5), when it appears Froeschner will order Graves free on a $50K bond pending any retrial in the capital murder case that sent Graves to prison in 1994.
Graves was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1992 murder of six people in Burleson Co. Graves has maintained his innocence and last March the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, ruling that Burleson Co. prosecutors, led by former District Attorney Charles Sebesta, withheld crucial witness statements from the defense -- including statements made by Robert Carter, who was also convicted and executed for the crime and who implicated Graves as his accomplice before later recanting and proclaiming Graves' innocence -- possibly tainting the outcome of the trial.
On the heels of that reversal, Froeschner in the fall recommended Graves be set free pending any retrial of the case, and U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent concurred, meaning that with $5K down, Graves could walk away from prison, where he has spent 12 years on death row.
That recommendation didn't sit well with the state, which tried to block Graves' release - and Towslee Corbett responded by keeping Graves in county lockup. But that plan hasn't gone over well with the feds, who, led by the Fifth Circuit -- hardly a hotbed of liberalism -- ruled in December that no later than Jan. 4 the state had to either hold a second bond hearing or set Graves free on the $50K. In a nose-thumbing at the feds, Towslee Corbett ordered a prohibitively high and unconstitutionally punitive a $1 million bond for Graves. Last week Froeschner reacted by issuing a writ of habeas corpus for Graves to appear tomorrow at noon -- a hearing from which Graves is likely to walk away, at least for the time being, a free man.