Nearly four years after a Texas man was exonerated of crimes he did not commit, he has filed a grievance with the State Bar which states that a former district attorney engaged in misconduct by withholding evidence from the defense that pointed toward his innocence. Anthony Graves served 18 years in prison — 12 of them on death row — after being wrongfully convicted of playing a role in the horrific murders of two women and four children before evidence of his innocence freed him in 2010.
reported that Graves’ complaint against former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta could lead to his disbarment if found guilty. Sebesta chose to have the case heard by an administrative judge in private as opposed to being heard before the public in district court.
Graves and his co-defendant Robert Cater were charged in 1992 with the murders of a family whose home had also been set on fire. Carter originally told investigators that Graves had participated in the killings, but later told Texas Rangers that he only named Graves because he felt pressured to identify a co-defendant and that Graves was actually not involved. Carter made similar statements to Sebesta before trial and again on his deathbed.
Graves is pleased that the State Bar has determined there is “just cause” to move forward with his prosecutorial misconduct claim against Sebesta.
“I sought justice for a long time while imprisoned, having to trust the court system and the legal profession to care about justice, and to do the right thing,” Graves said in a statement. “I am glad to see the State Bar of Texas now act favorably on my grievance at this stage.”
Graves’ attorney, Kathryn Kase, executive director of the Texas Defender Service, said she was disappointed Sebesta chose to have his complaint heard in private.
“A prosecutor’s duty is not simply to secure convictions, but to see that justice is done,” she said. “Conviction of an innocent man like Mr. Graves through prosecutorial misconduct is abhorrent and undermines public trust.”