Anthony Graves, who was freed from jail this year after spending 18 years behind bars for brutal murders he did not commit, sued the state of Texas today to officially clear his name and to force the Texas comptroller to pay him for the time he was wrongfully imprisoned.
Under the Timothy Cole Compensation Act, inmates who are freed from jail after being found innocent of the crime for which they were convicted are entitled to $80,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment plus a lifetime annuity. In total, Graves is due at least $1.4 million under the act, said his lawyer, Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas.
Graves filed a claim with Texas Comptroller Susan Combs after he was released, but it was denied earlier this month. Combs said the order releasing Graves did not have the correct wording to allow him access to compensation.
In the lawsuit filed today, Graves is asking the 200th District Court of Travis County to proclaim that he is "actually innocent." With that signed order, Blackburn said, Graves will then refile his request for compensation.
Graves said he simply wants the money he is owed and to put the case behind him. "Things are positive," Graves said during a press conference. While he awaits money from the state, Graves said his supporters and lawyers are helping him to make ends meet. And he announced with a smile that he starts a new job tomorrow, training to become an investigator at the Texas Defender Service. "I think in the end justice will prevail."