Graves Gets $1.45 Million

Comptroller pays up for wrongful conviction

Anthony Graves (c) at a hearing at the Capitol earlier this year
Anthony Graves (c) at a hearing at the Capitol earlier this year (Photo by John Anderson)

In the wake of Gov. Rick Perry's signing of a bill that would tweak the circumstances under which the wrongfully convicted may access state compensation, Comptroller Susan Combs announced this afternoon that Anthony Graves has now been given $1.45 million for the time he spent in prison.

"I am delighted we have been able to pay Anthony Graves the compensation he deserves for wrongful imprisonment," Combs said in a press release. "I directed my staff to draft language to amend the law and work with the Governor's office, the Attorney General and Sen. Rodney Ellis [D-Houston] to ensure Mr. Graves got the money to help him continue rebuilding his life."

In addition to the $1.45 million in compensation for the 18 years he spent behind bars – the majority of them on death row – Graves will also receive monthly annuity checks, Combs reports.

This is the latest chapter in the saga of Graves' attempts to be made whole for the time he spent wrongly incarcerated for a multiple murder in Sommerville. (You can read the background on the case here.) Though he was finally freed last year, Graves was blocked from receiving state compensation because of a technicality: Prosecutors had proclaimed Graves innocent and dropped the charges, but the court had not officially dubbed Graves an innocent man, as Combs said was required by Texas law. To add insult to injury, AG Greg Abbott then came after him for back child support payments that had accumulated over his years in prison. Graves was in court last month to fight to release the money and to have the AG back off. The state argued that the case was moot, in part because of the pending legislation (House Bill 417) that would retool the law to capture cases like Graves' and free up compensation. At the time, Graves' lawyers were not inclined to drop the case – after all, whether Perry would actually sign the bill into law was still up in the air.

As it turns out, Perry did come through for Graves – and now, it seems, so has Combs. "I want to thank…Combs for the leadership she showed in securing my claim," Graves said in the Combs press release. "Though the initial denial of my claim was frustrating, I know the Comptroller had no choice. As we worked with the Comptroller on this issue, I realized she and her staff are committed to helping me make up for my years lost in prison."

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82nd Legislature, wrongful conviction, courts, death penalty, Anthony Graves, Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, Susan Combs, HB 417, wrongful imprisonment, Rodney Ellis, courts

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