Exonerated Man Seeks Legal Action Against Former DA

Anthony Graves
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BURLESON COUNTY, Texas A man who spent 18 years in prison, most on death row, only to later be exonerated, says he wants the man who put him there to be punished.

Anthony Graves was convicted in the 1992 murders of a Somerville grandmother, her daughter and four grandchildren.

It wasn't until 2006 that a Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction and given a new trial. Another four years passed by until a new prosecutor, Kelly Siegler of Houston, decided there was insufficient evidence to retry him. Graves became a free man in October, 2010.

At the center of it all, a ruling that the Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta withheld statements that may have had an impact on the jury's decision. One of which was a confession from co-defendant Robert Carter that he acted alone in the murders.

On Monday, Graves filed a grievance with the Texas State Board of Law.

"I didn't pick this fight. Charles Sebesta picked this fight 20 years ago when he wrongfully convicted me," said Graves.

Graves said this fight isn't about him, but about protecting a justice system that people seem to be losing faith in.

"So many people are glad that I'm seeking justice against a man they have said has wronged so many for so many years," said Graves.

"He has his opinion, I've got my opinion," said Sebesta.

Sebesta said this is the same complaint Graves filed once before and was dismissed.

Graves said it was dismissed because the Texas Statute of Limitations had run out. Graves and his attorney, Bob Bennett, said they're taking advantage of a recently passed state law that allows a grievance to be filed against a prosecutor within four years of the release of someone who was wrongfully imprisoned.

"The grievance is the one filed in 2007," said Sebesta. "Initially, they said yes, the statute of limitations has run. But Bennet appealed that and the appelete hearing board came back and said Mr. Bennet, you're correct, the statute has not run."

Sebesta said the board has long since ruled on the grievance.

"They said just cause does not exist," said Sebesta.

Sebesta said this new grievance is nothing more than a way to grab more headlines.

"They are the ones that appealed, and they are the ones that won the appeal. Now they're coming back and trying to get the public to believe that it was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. That simply isn't true," said Sebesta.

Graves said the State Bar never said Sebesta wasn't guilty of professional misconduct, and that's what they're out to prove.

"Charles Sebestas has gotten away with too much, and needs to be held accountable," said Graves. "Well today, I'm telling you, Charles Sebestas is going to be held accountable for maliciously and willingly convicting me."

Sebesta said he'd likely do things differently if he had the chance, but he said he prosecuted that case to the best of his abilities, and denies suppressing any evidence.

"I couldn't live with myself if a person that I thought was innocent was on death row," said Sebesta. "I respect the courts, and I respect the system, and I accept their decision. But personally, I believe the man's guilty."

If the State Bar determines there was professional misconduct, Sebesta could be disbarred and could lose his law license.

Bennett said his client may pursue a Court of Inquiry that may lead to criminal charges against Sebesta.

For more information on this case, click on the links added to this story.