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Grave Injustice

Grave Injustice 42:21

This story was originally broadcast on April 23, 2011. It was updated on March 17, 2012.

Produced by Lourdes Aguiar, Jenna Jackson and Jennifer Simpson Ashmawy

SOMERVILLE, Texas - Before the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 1992, the police in Somerville, Texas found six bodies in the burned rubble of what used to be the Davis home.

"This was such a horrific event in that town and continues to be an event that really haunts the people of Somerville..." Texas Monthly reporter Pam Colloff told "48 Hours". "This was a family that almost everyone in town knew, liked, respected."

The victims: A grandmother, her daughter, and four grandchildren who were staying with them.

Colloff is still moved by the fact that the family never had a chance.

"There was Bobbie Davis, the grandmother to the four children who was bludgeoned and then stabbed to death," Colloff explained. "There was 16-year-old Nicole, her daughter, who was a high school student and athlete, who was bludgeoned and shot. And then there were the four grandchildren. They were 9-year-old Denitra, 6-year-old Brittany, 5-year-old Lea'Erin and 4-year-old Jason."

Glenda Rutledge is Lea'Erin and Brittany's mother.

"And my daughters, "Rutledge sighed, "were exotically beautiful. Beautiful...They were my legacy..." she continued in tears. "I was so looking forward to the chance to get it right... You know, to raise strong, sure, confident, successful women. You know, I wanted to do that so bad."

Rutledge's ex-husband, Keith Davis, lost almost his entire family that night.

"I mean these were little babies, and - and my mother, who... you know, who we adored, who was the center of our life," he said.

He was convinced it was a random crime.

"I just couldn't imagine someone from that area harming anyone in my family, 'cause we had never...we didn't have any enemies, we hadn't been in any trouble," said Davis.

Roy Rueter lived and worked not from the murders. Five days after the crimes, he remembers hearing there was a break in the case.

"I could hear the radio and the news would always come up..." he recalled. "And - it was early in the morning and they came up and they said, you know, arrest had been made...and they said uh - Anthony Charles Graves, age 27."

Anthony Graves was one of Rueter's best friends. Graves had worked for him for a while at his machine shop and the two became so close that Graves had even been in Rueter's wedding party.

"And it just it just freaked me out," he told "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Richard Schlesinger. "But my immediate thing was, yeah, right. No way. And what - you know, what - what could possibly be going on here, you know?"

"You didn't believe it?" Schlesinger asked Rueter.

"Well of course not. Absolutely not."

Rueter knew Anthony Graves as a gentle man, a father of three. He was now hearing his friend was a murderer - of women and children.

"In my heart, my convictions were that's impossible," he said. "Anthony would never do that. Anthony would never - hurt or raise a hand to a woman. And especially not a child, especially the way he loved his children."

And when Graves was arrested, he seemed equally stunned:

Justice of Peace: You are charged with the offense of capital murder...

Anthony Graves: Who? (raising his hands to say stop) Capital murder? Me?

Extra: Anthony Graves' booking 09:46

Rueter was so sure of his best friend's innocence that he put up $10,000 of his own money to hire a top lawyer for his upcoming hearing, convinced it would all soon be over.

"There's no way they have anything," Rueter insisted. "They don't have anything."

Police did have the words of Robert Carter, the father of the youngest victim: 4-year-old Jason. Investigators had grown suspicious when they noticed Carter had injuries that were hard to explain.

"At the funeral for the victims, Robert Carter showed up heavily bandaged on the left side of his face and his left hand...and the bandages were covering up severe burns," said Colloff.

Carter claimed he burned himself after his lawn mower blew up.

"The Texas Rangers obviously noticed Mr. Carter at the funeral," Colloff explained. "It was difficult to not notice. And they visited him at his house after the funeral and took him in for questioning."

Carter insisted he had nothing to do with the murders, but the Rangers had learned that he had a motive. Carter was married, but he had recently been served with a demand for child support from another woman, the mother of his son, Jason. Investigators believe Carter went there to kill Jason..

"He very clearly wanted his 4-year-old son dead," said Colloff.

After the murders, investigators believe Carter set the fire to cover his tracks, but from the beginning, they believed he must have had help. There were so many victims and so many weapons.

"There was a gun, there was a knife and there was a hammer," Colloff said. "And, investigators found it difficult to believe that one person could have wielded three different objects in killing six different people."

The Rangers interrogated Carter for hours and he finally gave them a name.

"During his interrogation, Robert Carter placed himself at the crime scene, but he said that he had not taken part in the murders himself. That the person who had committed the murders was a man named Anthony Graves, who was his wife's first cousin," said Colloff.

Anthony Graves
Anthony Graves

Within hours, Anthony Graves had been arrested and taken to the police station. He took a lie detector test and failed.

At first, there was little more than Carter's word that tied Graves to the case. But investigators would soon get help from the last place anyone would expect: Anthony Graves' best friend.

In Somerville, Texas, nothing moves very swiftly except for the occasional freight train and sometimes the desire for justice.

"Emotions were running so high in Somerville leading up to these trials that the mayor at the time said that people in the community didn't even want to bother with trials, that they wanted to quote 'bring back the hanging tree,'" said Texas Monthly reporter Pam Colloff.

But events would unravel a little more conventionally. Robert Carter stood trial and was quickly convicted. Then it was time for Anthony Graves, the man whom Carter had named as his accomplice.

"Things you see in a horror movie ....they said I did," Graves told Richard Schlesinger.

"And did you?"

"No. Would never do anything like that...I'm not a violent person at all... It's crazy."

Graves said he knew Robert Carter only in passing and didn't know the victims at all. In fact, there was no physical evidence linking Graves to the crime.

"I'm, like... whatever is goin' on is gonna be cleared up because I haven't done anything wrong," said Graves.

But authorities only focused more on Graves. He had said he never owned a knife, but investigators learned he once did and that it was given to him by his good friend, Roy Rueter.

"And I said I - I gave Anthony a knife one time, around his birthday," Rueter told Schlesinger. "And - I had one that's exactly like it. ...And they asked me if I still had that knife. And I said, 'Yeah.'"

The actual murder weapons were never found. Investigators wanted Rueter's knife, the one he said was identical to the knife he gave Graves.

"And they said, 'Well, would you mind - would you mind if we - examined it?'" Rueter explained. "And I said, 'No, I wouldn't mind at all.'"

Rueter thought the knives were too flimsy to inflict any serious wounds. And some of the victims had knife wounds that went through their skulls. So Rueter was stunned when those test results came back.

"The blade fit inside the skullcap perfectly," he said.

"So the DA's office told you the knife, which was identical to the one you gave Anthony, fit perfectly into the holes in those babies' skulls?" asked Schlesinger.

"Yes," he replies.

"What did you make of that?"

"I - I didn't want to believe it."

"Because if that was true...?"

"My friend was a murderer...right?"

His friend Anthony Graves' murder trial began in October 1994. District Attorney Charles Sebesta's star witness was Robert Carter.

"I would have hated to have gone to the jury without Carter's testimony in all fairness," Sebesta told Schlesinger.

But Carter was a problem witness. He was a liar. He had changed his story several times, sometimes implicating Graves, sometimes not.

"And so, when he got on the stand, were you worried about what he would say?" Schlesinger asked Graves.

"No," he replied. "Because I told my attorney I wanted him to testify. I said because there's no way this man can look me in my face and lie on me. ...I was trying to have faith in the fact that this guy would be honest, you know. Because this is my life. This is my life."

"So what did he say when he got up on the stand?"

"He lie. He lie. He said I did the crime with him."

Carter took the stand and said it was Graves who stabbed several victims to death. And Roy Rueter had to testify about the knife he gave Graves.

"I mean, it was a very bad position to be put in," he said. "It was - I was very torn, you know - conflicted about it. But they said it fit perfectly."

"And how did his testimony feel to you as opposed to other testimony?" Schlesinger asked Graves.

"Like betrayal. Like betrayal," he replied. "Because he knows me. ...This man knew me. Knew my family. Knew my kids."

And there were more damaging witnesses waiting to testify against Graves. Charles Sebesta said he had found five people at the jail were Graves and Carter were held who said they heard them talking about the murders.

"When you have five people who overhear conversations, very, very damning conversations between Carter and Graves on what they did and what they've gotta do...that in itself... That's significant. That's very admissible," Sebesta explained. "I probably could have done with one or two. In a capital murder case you want as much as you can. We had five."

Sebesta may have had corroborating witnesses, but Graves had alibi witnesses.

His brother, Arthur Curry, testified for him and has never changed his story.

"My brother never left the house that night, never," Curry said. "And never is never. He never left the house that night."

Asked where he was that night, Graves told Schlesinger, "I was at an apartment, my mother's apartment, with my brother, my - a lady friend and my sister."

Graves' girlfriend, another alibi witness, was set to take the stand as well, but when the day came, she unexpectedly refused.

The man who lost most of his family, Keith Davis, had heard more than enough. "I seen this guy hundreds of times in court," he said of Graves.

"When you looked at Anthony Graves, what did you see?" Schlesinger asked.

"A murderer... It was like he had horns like the devil... He looked like an evil person to me at the time. "

The jury agreed. Anthony Graves was convicted of six counts of capital murder and sentenced to death.

"This is crazy," Graves told Schlesinger. "I go from my home, where I was supposed to be safe, feel safe, and then I'm going to death row for something that I didn't even do."

But as it turns out, the jury might not have heard everything.

By 2002, Anthony Graves had spent eight years on death row. He was one more inmate who swore he was innocent as the State of Texas moved ever closer to executing him.

"I'm not a violent person. I'm not a bad person. I respect people. I carry myself in a dignified manner," Graves tells Richard Schlesinger. "Why me? Of all the people in the world, why me?"

"Were you thinking about your death?" Schlesinger asked Graves.

"No. Never thought about my death," he replied. "I thought about my life... my children, my mom. ...I just need to hold onto something. A good memory."

Graves' optimism may have kept him going on death row, but for his family, as the years passed, it was getting harder to keep hope alive.

"I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel," Graves' brother, Arthur Curry said. "And just to even fathom him being put to death... That would be the ultimate nail in all of our caskets. If they killed him for nothing."

Robert Carter was executed and Graves kept losing his appeals. He was running out of chances when his case caught the attention of the Innocence Network, which sent the case to Nicole Casarez' journalism class at Houston's University of St. Thomas.

"We weren't out to prove anyone innocent. That was not our goal," Casarez said. "Our goal was just to find out the truth."

"Did you have any faith in them?" Schlesinger asked Graves. "I mean, did you think they could help you?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Because...being exonerated by the public meant just as much to me as being exonerated by the courts," he replied. "I wanted people to know that my mother didn't raise a murderer. My mother raised a good son. That meant something to me."

Fourteen years after the crime, a group of journalism students and their professor would help turn the case on its head.
Fourteen years after the crime, a group of journalism students and their professor would help turn the case on its head. From left to right: Gia Gustilo, Nicole Casarez, Michael Bingham and Meghan Bingham. CBS News

It didn't take long for the students and their professor to realize the case against Anthony Graves had serious problems - beginning with the star witness.

"I think one of the first things that we noticed was that Robert Carter had recanted his testimony against Anthony right before he was executed," Casarez explained. "And that's very unusual."

In May of 2000, while strapped to the gurney in the Texas death chamber, Robert Carter took sole responsibility for the murders. "It was me and me alone," he said. "Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. I lied on him in court."

"And I think it's really important to listen to someone's, essentially, dying words," reporter Pam Colloff said. "If there's ever a time when someone might be telling the truth, I would think that might be it."

In fact for years before his execution, Robert Carter said to anyone who would listen that Anthony had nothing to do with the crimes. He even said the only reason he named Graves as his accomplice was because he saw him on the street before he was arrested.

"Anthony Graves did not have any part in the murders and was not present before, during or after I committed the multiple murders at the Davis home," Carter said in a taped statement in 1997.

In the statement, Carter said that he told D.A. Charles Sebesta the same thing. In fact, he swears he said that to Sebesta just hours before he took the stand in Graves' trial.

"I told the District Attorney and investigators that Graves was innocent and had nothing to do with the murders," said Carter.

But Sebesta didn't believe him. Carter went on to testify against Graves anyway, because he said he felt pressured by the D.A.

"Without Robert Carter's testimony, the state didn't have a case," explained Casarez.

Except defense lawyers say Sebesta never told them that Carter had just recanted - as Sebesta was required to do by law.

"Well, imagine that you're Anthony's attorney and you are facing Robert Carter on cross-examination. How meaningful would it have been for you to be able to say, 'Mr. Carter, isn't it true that just five minutes ago you said Anthony Graves had nothing to do with this?' What would Robert Carter have said? Would he have cracked? Would he have taken back his testimony? We'll never know," said Casarez.

Sebesta has long insisted he told the defense what Carter said.

"His response was that, 'What is that, his eighth or ninth story?'" said Sebesta.

But Graves' attorney denies that. While the lawyers spent years arguing before appellate courts about what Sebesta did or did not tell the defense, the students were gathering new evidence on the off chance that Graves might get a new trial.

"We did weekend trips," Casazez explained. "And we would take two cars and we would have a list of people and places that we were gonna go."

The amateur investigators were uncovering troubling evidence...especially about those jailhouse witnesses who Sebesta said overheard incriminating statements from Graves from nearby cells and over the intercom.

"It was Texas summer so there were large fans running. One of the intercoms was actually ripped out of the wall and it was just wires," according to student Meghan Bingham. "So it kind of put the idea in our head that maybe this intercom system wasn't all that fantastic. You know, what could you hear? Was it actually working?"

"They were working...some of the intercoms in some cells were not working. I don't know which ones. But I do know that at least one of those intercoms on one and two or whatever cells they were in was working," Sebesta told Schlesinger.

"How do you know that?"

"Because I was told law enforcement," Sebesta replied.

Nicole Casarez and the students also tracked down and met with Graves' former girlfriend - the one who could have provided him an alibi if she had taken the stand.

"She said she was very sorry that she hadn't testified at Anthony's original trial," Casarez explained.

So, why didn't the girlfriend testify? Right before she was supposed to take the stand, D.A. Charles Sebesta said in open court that she was a suspect in the case and might be indicted even though investigators had nothing on her.

"Sir, couldn't that be read though as a coy ploy, if you will, to scare away a woman who could very well alibi your defendant?" Schlesinger asked Sebesta.

"Had absolutely nothing to do with that," he replied.

Video: Charles Sebesta interview

"She fled in fear and in tears," Casarez explained. "She said, 'They put him in jail...on nothing. What's to stop them from putting me in jail on nothing?'"

After a four-year investigation talking to more than 100 witnesses, Nicole Casarez and her students turned over their findings to Graves' lawyers to help with his appeals.

"Anthony Graves is innocent," said student Michael Bingham.

"Anthony Graves is innocent," said Meghan Bingham.

"Anthony Graves is an innocent man," said Casarez.

But Anthony Graves remained behind bars, on death row, until March 2006, about 12 years after he was found guilty. Then, Graves got his first big break. A federal appeals court - one of the most conservative in the country - tossed out his conviction.

"I cried... And I pumped my fists and I was, like, 'Yes! God is good. Yes. I knew this. Yes. My case was overturned. Somebody seen the truth,'" said Graves.

The court skewered Charles Sebesta - called his behavior egregious - for among other things, intentionally withholding evidence that could have helped Graves; most notably that Carter had recanted right before he testified.

in 2006, Anthony Graves' conviction was overturned. He was moved from death row to a jail to await a new trial.
In 2006, Anthony Graves' conviction is overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Anthony was moved from death row to a jail where he was to await a new trial. CBS News

But even after the court's decision, Graves was not a free man. Sebesta had retired, but the new district attorney said he would try Graves again. So Anthony walked out of death row and into the county jail where he sat waiting for his next trial - for four years.

"You can't believe that it could actually happen in real life. But it did," said Katherine Scardino.

This time around, Graves has a seasoned defense team appointed by the judge: Scardino and Jimmy Phillips, assisted by Nicole Casarez.

"We don't know what we'd do without her," Scardino said. "I mean she's like our...Graves Encyclopedia."

The lawyers will have to be on their toes, because their opponent, Kelly Siegler - widely regarded as the toughest prosecutor in Texas- has been appointed to handle the Graves case.

"I would say this is one of the worst capital murder cases that anyone could ever talk about or deal with," said prosecutor Kelly Siegler.

She should know. Siegler has sent 19 men to death row. So in February 2010, she was ready, willing and eager to make it an even 20 when she was appointed to retry Anthony Graves.

"Did that scare you that she was coming after you?" Richard Schlesinger asked Graves.

"No," he replied. "...I was standing up for what was right. So it didn't make no difference who was on the case. The fact that I was innocent wasn't gonna change."

By the fall of 2010, Pam Colloff's investigation of the case had produced one of the longest articles in the history of Texas Monthly magazine.

"There were so many things about this case that fascinated me, beginning with how weak the evidence was...I wanted to understand how someone can be sent to death row on so little evidence," explained Colloff.

Read Colloff's article, "Innocence Lost"

Of course, making Graves' case in print is a lot easier than making it in court. With the trial date approaching and Kelly Siegler circling, attorneys Katherine Scardino and Jimmy Phillips were feeling the pressure.

"You make a mistake in a death penalty case and its over," said Phillips.

"They chose to hire a good prosecutor. ...We're gonna have to work hard and be double and triply prepared," Scardino said. "Kelly is a formidable opponent."

Siegler has beaten most of the best lawyers in Texas and now she asked for a meeting with the Graves team.

"Why did she want to meet with us?" Casarez wondered. "Was she trying to get information from us? Was she trying to learn what our trial strategy was? I didn't really know what to make of it."

Siegler met Graves' lawyers and asked a lot of questions. But the defense lawyers could not have imagined why. The prosecutor, with her 19 and 0 record on death penalty cases, was having serious problems with the case against Anthony Graves.

"I read every page of every document in 25 boxes," Siegler explained. "And at some point it switched from getting ready to go to trial, to can we go to trial, to oh my God, what happened here?"

Siegler and her investigator, Otto Hanak, soon realized Nicole Casarez and her students were right on target.

"Every single time we would reinvestigate or re-talk to a witness that they had talked do, we would find that they were right," Siegler said.

One by one, the pillars of the prosecution's case crumbled.

"We tried to find paperwork, people, anything that we could, especially a motive to say Anthony Graves committed the capital murder with Robert Carter," Siegler continued. "And we found nothing."

Otto Hanak tried to confirm the testimony from Sebesta's jailhouse witnesses.

"We can't find anybody that can positively say in court or in this room that I heard Anthony Graves say this. I heard Robert Carter say this," he explained.

He looked into Roy Rueter's knife, calling the blade "flimsy."

According to Hanak, a knife this flimsy could not have caused the kind of wounds to the skulls that were found on some victims.

"I personally do not believe that that blade is strong enough, nor is this knife made well enough, to go through...human skulls," he explained.

District Attorney Charles Sebesta had argued Graves' identical knife had inflicted 66 stab wounds the night of the murder.

"There's no doubt that that knife could have survived that," Sebesta told Schlesinger. "We had Texas Ranger testimony that it could have done it."

But Hanak, who is a former Texas Ranger, believes the knife would have left its mark on the killer.

"When you get down to the 10th, 11th, 12th stab wound...the knife becomes very slippery, becomes very bloody," he explained. "The person that inflicted those wounds is also going to have an injury themselves."

Asked if Graves had any injuries on his hands, Hanak replied, "None at all."

"Did Robert Carter have any injuries on his hands?"

"No," replied Hanak.

"So what does that tell you?" Schlesinger asked.

"That tells me that this is not the knife that caused those injuries."

Siegler thought any new case against Graves would have to be built almost solely on Robert Carter's testimony, but that was before she found out how Charles Sebesta got that testimony from his star witness.

"He made a deal with Mr. Carter?" Schlesinger asked Siegler.

"And what a deal he made," she replied.

Sebesta had a powerful card to play: Carter's wife, Theresa. Shortly after the killings, the D.A. had also indicted her for capital murder.

"She had given conflicting statements about his burns. There were a number of things that she did," said Sebesta.

The deal Sebesta made? He wouldn't question Carter about his wife on the stand if he testified against Graves.

"How does a prosecutor - I should say how does an ethical prosecutor put a witness on the stand - your main piece of evidence in a death penalty case and say, 'OK, you get up there and talk about what you did and what Graves did. But I'm not gonna ask you about your wife. You can't do that," said Siegler.

"Why in the world would you agree not to ask him about her?" Schlesinger asked Sebesta.

"Well, I needed his testimony," he replied.

And, Sebesta pointed out, the deal was approved by a judge and the defense never questioned it.

"I put on the record...I did put it on the record," said Sebesta.

The indictment against Carter's wife was later dismissed due to a lack of evidence. And Siegler never bought into Sebesta's theory that there had to be multiple killers.

"We appreciated the fact that you don't have to have three killers because five of the people killed were children, some little babies, asleep in their bed," Siegler pointed out. "How hard is it for a grown man to stab little babies asleep in their bed?"

And all the evidence Siegler said, pointed to Robert Carter, not Anthony Graves.

Schlesinger noted to Siegler, "There must have been a moment when you concluded, 'Gee whiz, this guy's innocent - not just not guilty, but innocent."

"It wasn't even a difficult decision, it was pretty clear," she said.

"And by innocent, he wasn't there; he had nothin' to do with it?"


"He had never even been in town."

"No motive, no reason, no connection, nothing," said Siegler.

"Never in a million years would I have predicted that this would be the outcome of this case, particularly with Kelly Siegler as prosecutor," admitted Colloff.

On an autumn afternoon, in the rural Burleson County, Texas jail, Anthony Graves was summoned, unexpectedly out of his cell.

"I'm sitting and writing a letter...they come get me and say, 'Put your shirt on' and walk me to the front of the jail," Graves told Richard Schlesinger.

Nicole Casarez and Jimmy Phillips, members of his legal team, were there to see him with a message he waited to hear for 18 years: The murder charges had been dropped.

"Both of us could barely talk. We were so emotional," Phillips said. "And [Nicole] says, 'Anthony, God is great'. And he knew."

"She said, 'You're free man! You can leave right now...It's over Anthony," he recalled, shaking his head smiling.

And on Oct. 27, 2010, the man known as inmate number 999127 got his good name back. Anthony Graves, carrying all of his belongings and looking a little dazed, walked out of jail and into the warm Texas sun.

"48 Hours" was there to greet him.

"This is probably the dumbest question I've ever asked... How do you feel?" Schlesinger asked Graves upon his release.

"Aha! Oh, I feel good...I feel good...," he replied. "Eighteen years is a long time and I lost a lot... but today I gained my freedom."

His first call as a free man is to his mother.

"Say, what you cooking tonight?" Graves said on the phone. "Can you put something on because I'm on my way...This is your son! (laughs)"

His mother did not know that her son was free.

"And just so you know...I did not escape!"

Graves' first stop is home to his sons who had grown up without him and, at long last, to an embrace with his mother - the first in 18 years.

He is rejoining the world, picking up where he left off. After all that time behind bars, Graves finally has places to go and people to see.

An exonerated Anthony Graves speaks at a press conference Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 in Houston.
An exonerated Anthony Graves speaks at a press conference Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 in Houston. Graves spent 18 years behind bars for the 1992 murders of a Somerville, Texas family. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

At his lawyer's office, Graves is able to thank the people who may well have saved his life - the students who got him off death row.

There's someone else in the crowd. For the first time since Graves' trial, he sees Roy Rueter, his best friend whose testimony did so much to put him away.

"Damn you look old" Graves tells Rueter. "It happens to the best of us...but you know I love you."

Graves greeted his friend with a warm embrace.

Asked what that meant to Rueter, he got emotional as he told Schlesinger, "For him to take [a] minute - minute and a half and give me that assurance, that's - you know - that's what life is really all about."

"Was it hard to forgive him?" Schlesinger asked Graves.

"No," he replied. "No, it wasn't hard at all. He just became another pawn in their game of chess."

But Kelly Siegler is not nearly as forgiving. At a news conference, she lashed out at Charles Sebesta, who was once a fellow prosecutor.

"I think ultimately it's the prosecutor's responsibility...Charles Sebesta handled this case in a way that would be best described as a criminal justice system's nightmare," Siegler told reporters.

"What are you saying about him?" Schlesinger asked.

"I'm sayin' that Charles Sebesta did everything he could...manipulating witnesses, fabricating evidence, using people, misrepresenting things to the judge and to the jury to make sure Anthony Graves got convicted of capital murder and put on death row," she said.

Graves' attorneys had filed a complaint against Sebesta, but the Texas State Bar dismissed it and Sebesta insists he did nothing wrong - that Siegler was just afraid of losing a big case.

"They didn't have an intention of trying this case," Sebesta told Schlesinger. "Basically they're looking for a way out."

"Sebesta says you didn't want to take the risk of losing at trial," Schlesinger told Siegler.

"Really? Well, I would say that he's gonna have a hard time findin' any single other person that... would agree that I'm afraid to go on trial on anything," she said.

Siegler said there was one thing she dreaded about this case - telling the victim's family that the man they believed was a murderer for so long... is not.

"Eighteen years they've believed that the two men responsible for killing their family, their babies, their mom, their sister, got what they deserved," she said. "Some of them are never gonna change their minds. They're always gonna think Anthony Graves is guilty, no matter what I say. How do you get upset with them? They're as much a victim of what happened as Anthony Graves is."

For his own troubles, Anthony Graves should have been paid $1.4 million when he was released. That's what the state of Texas figures 18 years of wrongful imprisonment is worth. But there was a paperwork snafu.

His release documents never used the words "actual innocence." So Texas refused to pay.

"Two words. Two words they're holding me hostage behind two words," said Graves.

Finally, after nine months of public pressure, the legislature passed, and the governor was quick to sign a special measure awarding him the money. Graves credited "48 Hours Mystery" for drawing attention to what he was owed. But Graves had already won the biggest fight of his life -- for his life and for his freedom. "You could put your hands out and touch both walls where I was living at, you know," he said.

He can come and go as he pleases, as he tries to absorb how far he's come from a previous life he's still struggling to understand.

"They were trying to kill me," he said. "I still can't wrap my mind around how the hell did I go from my home to death row for a crime that happened in another town to people I don't even know. It's crazy...and I gave 18 years of my life. "

Graves speaks all over the country raising money for legal assistance for people on death row.

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