Tuesday, 9 January 2007

New prosecutor named to retry Anthony Graves

Jan. 9, 2007

New prosecutor named to retry Anthony Graves

Batchelor tried a man executed after evidence challenge

By HARVEY RICE, Houston Chronicle

GALVESTON - A special prosecutor appointed to retry former death-row inmate
Anthony Graves gained notice for prosecuting a man executed despite
information casting doubt on the evidence used to convict him.

Burleson County District Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett on Friday appointed
former Navarro County Criminal District Attorney Patrick Batchelor.

Batchelor replaces interim special prosecutor Assistant Attorney General
Julie Ann Stone, who was appointed Thursday and held the post for less than
a day. The judge gave no reason for the change in her order.

Batchelor won the conviction of Cameron Todd Willingham, accused of setting
a fire that killed his three children in 1991. After the Chicago Tribune
reported that the arson evidence used to convict Willingham was faulty, the
New York-based Innocence Project presented a report signed by five arson
experts that examined the trial testimony and found it based on obsolete

But after reviewing the information, Gov. Rick Perry declined to halt the
2004 execution.

Like Willingham, an innocence group says it has evidence showing that Graves
is innocent.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ordered a new trial for
Graves after determining that prosecutors withheld evidence and elicited
false testimony.

The case was assigned to Towslee-Corbett, who was forced to appoint a
special prosecutor after Renee Mueller, district attorney for Burleson and
Washington counties, recused her entire office.

Towslee-Corbett has set Graves' bail at $1 million, an amount that U.S.
Magistrate Judge John Froeschner on Friday called "pretty excessive and
pretty oppressive," but never-theless legal.

Towslee-Corbett also has imposed a gag order over the opposition of Graves'
attorneys, who said in court documents that media coverage was the only way
to ensure that he received a fair trial.

Graves was sentenced to death for the 1992 slaying of a grandmother and five

They were bludgeoned, stabbed and shot, then the house was torched to cover
the crime.

Robert Carter, who was executed for the crime, said repeatedly that Graves
was not involved.


Source : Houston Chronicle


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