Graves Case Becomes Election Issue

Anthony Graves, who spent eighteen years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, speaks out as the Washington County sheriff’s race heats up.
Wed April 11, 2012 7:16 pm

If you had assumed that you had heard the last from Charles Sebesta about the Anthony Graves case, you were wrong.

Sebesta, as you may recall, was the longtime district attorney of Burleson and Washington counties who won a conviction, and a death sentence, against Graves in 1994. All charges against Graves were dropped in October 2010, after special prosecutor Kelly Siegler, who had been hired to retry him, and then- D.A. Bill Parham declared that their re-investigation of the case cleared Graves. After eighteen years behind bars, twelve of them on death row, Graves walked out of jail a free man. He was subsequently awarded $1.4 million by the State of Texas for his wrongful imprisonment.

Siegler—who as a Harris County assistant D.A. has sent nineteen men to death row—made no bones about who was to blame for Graves’s wrongful conviction. “Charles Sebesta handled this case in a way that would best be described as a criminal justice system’s nightmare,” she announced at a 2010 press conference. “It’s a prosecutor’s responsibility to never fabricate evidence or manipulate witnesses or take advantage of victims. And unfortunately, what happened in this case is all of those things.” Sitting beside her at the press conference was ex-Texas Ranger Otto Hanak, whose reinvestigation of the case had laid bare the errors that had led to Graves’s conviction. Graves’s trial, Siegler said, was “a travesty.”

Sebesta, who has staked his legacy on the Graves case, has nevertheless continued to assert that Graves is guilty. Yesterday, in the pages of the Brenham Banner-Press, Sebesta took aim at Hanak, who is running for Washington County sheriff. A longtime lawman, Hanak has an impressive résumé and a number of endorsements from high-level members of law

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