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UPDATE - Judge Rules 13-Year Sentence Man Never Served is Complete - Armed Robber Was Never Told to Report to Prison

Posted by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:44 PM
  • 25 Replies

 UPDATE

video

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-rules-13-year-sentence-man-never-served-complete-n97301

Judge Rules 13-Year Sentence Man Never Served is Complete

A Missouri man who was locked up after officials realized he never served a 13-year sentence is being released from prison by a judge who decided he turned his life around when he should have been doing time.

Cornealious "Mike" Anderson's family began crying when the court granted his request for release nine months after he began serving the sentence he was given in 2000.

 

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Judge Terry Lynn Brown lauded Anderson's "exemplary" behavior during his 13 years of freedom before the arrest. "You've been a good father. You've been a good husband. You've been a good taxpaying citizen of the state of Missouri.

"That leads me to believe that you are a good man and a changed man."

Anderson walked out of the courtroom with his wife and 3-year-old daughter on one arm and his mom on the other. Before being driven away to a freedom celebration at an undisclosed spot, Anderson told reporters he was "very happy. My faith has always been in God. I'm just so thankful. Thank God for everything."

Anderson was convicted of the 1999 armed robbery of a Burger King manager making a bank deposit but was out on bail while he appealed.

His appeals were shot down, but because of what the state has labeled a clerical error, he never went to prison.

Instead, he became a married father of four, a businessman and a youth football coach — an upstanding life interrupted when state officials realize the mistake and put him behind bars.

Anderson noted he had made no effort to conceal his identity while he was free. Tens of thousands of people signed a petition on Change.org urging his release.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement that the outcome was "appropriate."

"From the outset, I have proposed a solution that balances the seriousness of Mr. Anderson's crime with the mistake made by the criminal justice system and Mr. Anderson's lack of a criminal record over the past 13 years," he said.

"Today's outcome appears to appropriately balance the facts as we understand them."

Armed Robber Was Never Told to Report to Prison

ST. LOUIS April 16, 2014 (AP)
 
PHOTO: Cornealious Anderson, who was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, is shown in this undated file photo.
Cornealious Anderson, who was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, is shown in this undated file photo.
Missouri Department of Corrections/AP Photo
Associated Press

 

After he was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, Cornealious Anderson was sentenced to 13 years behind bars and told to await instructions on when and where to report to prison. But those instructions never came.

So Anderson didn't report. He spent the next 13 years turning his life around - getting married, raising three kids, learning a trade. He made no effort to conceal his identity or whereabouts. Anderson paid taxes and traffic tickets, renewed his driver's license and registered his businesses.

Not until last year did the Missouri Department of Corrections discover the clerical error that kept him free. Now he's fighting for release, saying authorities missed their chance to incarcerate him.

In a single day last July, Anderson's life was turned upside-down.

"They sent a SWAT team to his house," Anderson's attorney, Patrick Megaro, said Wednesday. "He was getting his 3-year-old daughter breakfast, and these men with automatic weapons bang on his door."

Anderson, 37, was taken to Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo., to begin serving the sentence. A court appeal filed in February asks for him to be freed.

Anderson had just one arrest for marijuana possession on his record when he and a cousin robbed an assistant manager for a St. Charles Burger King restaurant on Aug. 15, 1999. The men, wearing masks, showed a gun (it turned out to be a BB gun) and demanded money that was about to be placed in a deposit box.

The worker gave up the bag of cash, and the masked men drove away. The worker turned in the car's license plate number.

Anderson was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison and waited for word on what to do next.

"His attorney said, 'Listen, they're going to get you some day, so just wait for the order,'" Megaro said. "As time goes by, the order never comes. What does a normal person believe? Maybe they forgot about it. It's only human nature to hope they just let it go. He really didn't know what to do.

"A year goes by, two years, five years, 10 years. He's thinking, 'I guess they don't care about me anymore,'" Megaro said.

So Anderson went about his life. Megaro said he was not a fugitive, was never on the run. In fact, just the opposite.

Megaro described Anderson as a model citizen - a married father who became a carpenter and started three businesses. He paid income and property taxes and kept a driver's license showing his true name and address. When he was pulled over for a couple of traffic violations, nothing showed up indicating he should be in prison.

That's why Anderson was shocked when the marshals arrived.

He now lives among the general population at Charleston. Megaro said Anderson is holding his own- barely.

"He's doing his best to keep his spirits up," Megaro said. "Each day that goes by, more hope is lost. It's a daily struggle for him."

Peter Joy, director of the Criminal Justice Clinic at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said it isn't unusual in a country with such a high prison population for sentences to fall through the cracks. What is unusual, Joy said, is for it to go unnoticed for so long.

"The real tragedy here is that one aspect of prison is the idea of rehabilitation," Joy said. "Here we have somebody who has led a perfect life for 13 years. He did everything right. So he doesn't need rehabilitation."

What happens next isn't clear. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster on Tuesday filed a court response that said the state is justified in making Anderson serve the sentence.

However, Koster wrote that Megaro could refile the case as an action against the director of the Department of Corrections, which could give Anderson credit for the time he was technically at large.

Megaro doubted that strategy would work. He said the law does not allow credit for time served when the convicted person was not behind bars.

"I don't think that's an option, unfortunately," Megaro said.

Instead, he's relying on case law. The last time anything like this happened in Missouri was 1912. In that case, the convicted man was set free, Megaro said.

Gov. Jay Nixon could also commute the sentence. A spokesman for Nixon declined to comment.

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:44 PM
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Replies (1-10):
HaileysMom07180
by Bronze Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:49 PM
3 moms liked this

wow thats tough, i really think they need to do a motion just releasing him on parole at the most at this point.

JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Wow, tough one.... I agree with Hailey's mom ^^^^

LiveinJoy
by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:56 PM

I hope they give him Parole. I realize he probably should have reported or asked but he was following directions.

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:59 PM
1 mom liked this

 I think it's rather disgusting that they came to his home like that.

Why not just send him orders to report as they would have 13 years ago?

it's easy to do a background check and see he hasn't been in jail or anything else since all this happened 13 years ago.

I hope they commute his sentence or at least let him out on parole.

HaileysMom07180
by Bronze Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:59 PM

if he hires the right attorney, he might even be able to go as far as getting a pardon from the governer or having it reduced to a misdemeanor from the judge.  it would actually probably be quite easy assuming he could get the prison to admit that they had a clerical failure on their end.

No_Average_Bear
by Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 2:01 PM

I know!

Here's a great idea!

Let's put a man in prison who we missed taking into our custody for his 13 year sentence -- OUR MISTAKE -- and put him in prison even though he never committed another crime and is a productive member of society so we can waste money on rehabilitating him -- rehabilitation he doesn't need!

Their stupidity knows no bounds. They need to admit their mistake and let the man go back to being an upstanding citizen.

eye rolling

ramita
by Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 2:03 PM
He shouldn't be sentenced to prison at this point. It would just mess his good life up. He learned his lesson and turned it around. That's probably better than what would've happened if he'd gone to prison. Although I do think maybe some community service type deal would work in exchange.
MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 2:03 PM
1 mom liked this

I heard this story on the radio.  I heard from him, as well as the man he buglarized.  The man he robbed doesn't think he should go to jail.  And Mr. Anderson really sounds like a good guy. He's clearly sorry for what he did.

I think you have to ask yourself what is really accomplished in incarcerating this man.  And I don't think anything is -- he does not belong behind bars. 

(And when you realize that doing so would also deprive his three children of their father (and his income). . .yeah, nothing good will come out of it.)

tanyainmizzou
by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Nixon probably will.  

JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Apr. 17, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Given the circumstances of the crime, I can understand why they felt they should sent in SWAT, however due diligence would have certainly prevented any embarassment and saved the State $$$...

He still owes his sentence - I hope it's converted to parole, probation at the minimum.

Quoting sweet-a-kins:

 I think it's rather disgusting that they came to his home like that.

Why not just send him orders to report as they would have 13 years ago?

it's easy to do a background check and see he hasn't been in jail or anything else since all this happened 13 years ago.

I hope they commute his sentence or at least let him out on parole.


....I am only responsible for what I say,NOT for what you understand.....
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