Innocence Found

Why did Anthony Graves spend eighteen years behind bars—twelve of them on death row—for a crime he did not commit?

  • Award Winner
  1. The 6,640th day of Anthony Graves’s incarceration—October 27, 2010—began like any other. He awoke at five o’clock in the morning to the sound of the food cart rattling down the hall of the Burleson County jail, where a guard slid his breakfast tray through a slot in his cell door. At seven o’clock, the overhead fluorescent lights came on, illuminating the windowless cell where he had lived in solitary confinement for the past four years. Graves turned on the TV, switching it to the local morning newscast. The 45-year-old inmate compulsively watched the news, trying to keep up-to-date on a world he had left behind when a newcomer named Bill Clinton was running for president. When it came time for his allotted hour of exercise, a guard escorted him to an empty concrete room, where he walked briskly in circles. He could glimpse the sky through four small windows above him that were covered in chicken wire. Every so often, when the wind kicked up outside, he could feel the breeze against his skin.

    Eighteen years earlier, Graves had been arrested and charged with the most notorious crime in Burleson County history: the brutal slayings on August 18, 1992, of a well-liked Somerville woman named Bobbie Davis, her daughter, and her four grandchildren, each of whom had been stabbed multiple times before their home was set ablaze. The crime’s prime suspect, Robert Carter—a man whom Graves had known only in passing—had fingered Graves as the killer. Although at least three people could...