April 13, 2007
Judge lowers bail for former capital murder convict
By HARVEY RICE, Houston Chronicle
CALDWELL -- A special prosecutor today acknowledged that crucial evidence,
including the skull caps of victims, may never be found for the retrial of
Anthony Graves, whose 1994 capital murder conviction was overturned for
The acknowledgment by special prosecutor Patrick Batchelor came after
Carter's 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,
whom the Texas Innocence Network says is innocent, and that the ruling would
Batchelor told Burleson County District Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett that he
would produce or account for the missing 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.
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.
Mullin, who along with other defense attorneys is working for free because
he believes 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.
Mullin said he would ask the judge to dismiss the case if prosecutors fail
to produce the evidence.
Before Towslee-Corbett issued her ruling on a defense request to reduce
Graves' bail, Mullin told her 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,
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 the night before he testified against
Mullin also questioned the use of a Somerville convenience store clerk whose
story changed after she was put under hypnosis.
At the next hearing, May 22, the defense will try to prevent the prosecution
from using a transcript of Carter's 1994 testimony against Graves.
Source : Houston Chronicle