Monday, 16 April 2007

Evidence for former death row inmate's retrial lost

April 14, 2007 (2 articles)

Evidence for former death row inmate's retrial lost

By HARVEY RICE, Houston Chronicle

CALDWELL - A special prosecutor Wednesday acknowledged that crucial
evidence, including the skull caps and clothing of the victims, may never be
found for the retrial of former death row inmate Anthony Graves, whose 1994
capital murder conviction was overturned for prosecutorial misconduct.

The acknowledgment by special prosecutor Patrick Batchelor came after
Graves' bail was reduced from $1 million to $600,000 and his trial was set
for July 10.

Defense attorney David Mullin said the bail was still too high for Graves,
who the Texas Innocence Network says is innocent, and that the ruling would
be appealed.

Batchelor told Burleson County District Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett that he
would produce or account for the lost evidence by May 1, but said, "Because
of the change of jails and personnel, we may not have a definitive answer,
except to say that they are gone."

A new jail has been built and Sheriff's Department personnel has changed
since Graves and Robert Carter were arrested in 1992 for the slaying of a
grandmother and five children in Somerville. A gun, knife and hammer were
used and the house torched to hide the crime.

Although lab tests failed to connect Graves to the crime, defense attorneys
want to use improved technology to retest clothing taken from Graves and the
victims. They also want to examine fingerprints that were identified as not
belonging to Graves.

Missing items
But prosecutors so far have been unable to find the skull caps, clothing,
fingerprints, bullets from the victims, a bloody hammer and a hunting knife
found on a Washington County highway. The evidence was available for the
1994 trial.

Mullin, who along with other defense attorneys is working for free because
he thinks Graves is innocent, said the only remaining physical evidence held
by the prosecution are several photos and six knives used as props in a
demonstration by the medical examiner.

Investigators never recovered the knife used in the killings of Bobbie Joyce
Davis, 45; her 16-year-old daughter, Nicole; and four grandchildren between
4 and 9 years old.

Mullin said he would ask the judge to dismiss the case if prosecutors fail
to produce the evidence.

Testimony concerns
Mullin told the judge that questionable testimony was used to set Graves'
bail in 1992 and was being relied on by the special prosecutor in opposing a
bail reduction.

Five jail inmates and jailers testified that they overheard Graves admit to
the slayings in a jail conversation with Carter, but all of them admitted
that they were unable to distinguish between Graves' voice and Carter's,
Mullin said.

Carter, whose testimony was crucial in Graves' conviction, recanted several
times, including his final statement moments before his execution in 2000
for the slayings. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year overturned
Graves conviction because prosecutors failed to inform the defense that
Carter had said Graves was innocent before he testified against him.


Source : Houston Chronicle

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