Prosecutors withheld two statements that could have changed the minds of jurors who convicted Anthony Graves of killing a woman and five children in Burleson County 12 years ago, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.Think what chutzpah it took for prosecutors to withhold the recantation of their main witness from the defense, much less for the district judge to say it would have made no difference in the trial! "The appeals court decision overturns a recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner that was adopted by U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent," reported Rice.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a decision by a Galveston federal judge and ordered a new trial for Graves, 40, who has been on death row since his conviction.
The appeals court said in a 22-page opinion that the withheld statements could have discredited testimony by the state's key witness, Robert Carter, who was executed for the slayings.
Although Carter's testimony convicted Graves, he proclaimed Graves' innocence moments before his execution.
The appeals court said that Charles Sebesta, then district attorney for Burleson and Washington counties, failed to tell Graves' lawyers that the night before the trial, Carter said: "I did it all myself, Mr. Sebesta. I did it all myself."
This is what happens when prosecutors seek convictions instead of justice. Read the opinion (pdf)