Anthony Graves

Anthony Graves-- The confessed murderer says Anthony is innocent

Case Account provided by Nickie Greer

Written by Stormy Thoming-Gale

[Editor's Note: This case is based on the testimony of Robert Carter, the man who committed the murders, who has recanted SEVEN times. There is no forensic evidence that supports the theory that Anthony had anything to do with the crime. After you read his story, I urge you to read Anthony's appeal document at http://www.oranous.com/texas/graves/gravesappeal.html. Anthony is on Death Row in Texas. He needs your help.]

Date of Execution: May 31, 2000 Offender: Carter, Robert #999091

Last Statement:

To the Davis family, I am sorry for all of the pain that I caused your family. It was me and me alone. Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it. I lied on him in court. My wife had nothing to do with it. Anthony Graves don't even know anything about it. My wife don't know anything about it. But, I hope that you can find your peace and comfort in strength in Christ Jesus alone. Like I said, I am sorry for hurting your family. And it is a shame that it had to come to this. So I hope that you don't find peace, not in my death, but in Christ. Cause He is the only one that can give you the strength that you need.

And to my family, I love you. Ah, you have been a blessing to me and I love you all and one day I will see y'all, so I hope y'all find y'all peace, comfort, and strength in Christ Jesus alone, because that's where it's at. Abul, behold your son, and Anitra, behold your mother. I love you.

I am ready to go home and be with my Lord.

On August 18, 1992, Bobby Joyce Davis, 45, her daughter, Nicole, 16, and four of Ms. Davis' grandchildren, Denitra, 9, Brittany, 6, Lea'Erin, 5 and Jason, 4, were murdered at the Davis residence in Somerville, Texas. The house was set on fire.

On August 22, 1992, Anthony was arrested for arson/murder, a capital offense. Five of the victims had been stabbed and beaten and the sixteen-year-old was shot. The police immediately suspected involvement by more than one person. The youngest victim was a four-year-old boy, the son of Robert Carter.

Anthony was at home August 22, 1992 when the police came for him. Without being told what he was charged with, Anthony was taken to the police station. Anthony repeatedly asked what was going on, but was told he would be fully informed upon arrival. At the police station, Anthony was charged with the murders.

The police told Anthony that Robert had said Anthony was with him and helped him commit the murders. Anthony didn't recognize the name Robert. He didn't know anyone by that name. They took Anthony to a holding cell and closed the door. Anthony looked into the cell across from him, and there was Robert Carter. Anthony realized then who Robert was -- he was married to Anthony's cousin. Anthony and Robert had met, but they didn't know each other. Anthony asked Robert why he had done this to him and Robert motioned for Anthony to be quiet, pointing to a speaker in the cell. Anthony told Robert that he didn't care, and that he hadn't done anything wrong.

Anthony was interrogated for hours and continued to plead his innocence. One of the officers said that he could already see the needle going into Anthony's arm. Anthony kept telling the officers that he didn't know anything about the crime. The officers insisted that he did and attempted to coerce Anthony in a false statement.

Three weeks later, at the grand jury hearing, Robert Carter voluntarily went to speak to the prosecutors, against his attorney's advice, and told them that he had lied and that Anthony was innocent. Robert told them that he had made the whole thing up because he was scared. Robert also told prosecutors that one Texas Ranger told him that if he told who did it they would let him go. Robert knew the police suspected two people. Robert's wife had been arrested with him and was also charged in the crime. Robert didn't want her to go to prison.

Robert knew now that they weren't going to let him go because when they arrested him after he attended the funerals, he was covered in burns and bandages. The funerals Robert attended were for the people who died that night in the fire. The youngest victim was Robert's own son, four years old.

When Anthony spoke to the grand jury, he told them he was innocent. He also told the grand jury that if they had any further questions they could call him back and he would come back without an attorney. Anthony didn't feel he needed an attorney if he hadn't done anything wrong.

Anthony's alibi witness, Yolanda Mathis, and her parents testified to the grand jury about Anthony's whereabouts on the night of the crime. Anthony was at his mother's house with Yolanda and they spent that whole night together. Anthony's younger brother, Arthur, was there with them.

Two weeks later, Anthony had a bond hearing. At the hearing, a jailer and some local police officers said that Anthony had made incriminating statements against himself in the holding cell. Anthony was denied bond because of these false statements. A few weeks later, the grand jury indicted Anthony on capital murder charges.

Anthony waited over two years for his trial to start. Robert Carter's trial was first, in the early part of 1994. Robert was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

On October 20, 1994, Anthony's trial began. Robert Carter was brought in as a witness for the prosecution and he testified against Anthony, giving a whole different story than the one that got Anthony arrested. Robert Carter told the court that the adult victim had gotten a promotion at work that Anthony's mother should have been given. Carter testified that Anthony called him and they went together to the house of the victims. Robert said he knocked on the door to talk to the adult victim and spent about 30 minutes talking to her, and then said that he had something in his car that he wanted her to see. He said that then he came out to the car and got Anthony.

Robert Carter testified that Anthony went into the house and started shouting at the woman and when Robert came back into the house there was blood everywhere. Robert said that one of the kids ran into the front room where this had all just happened and Robert chased her to the back of the house and shot her. Robert Carter testified that is when he noticed the other bodies.

During the trial, it came out that a deal was made with Robert Carter. If Robert testified against Anthony, they would not charge Robert's wife and if the charges against Robert were reversed, they would not seek the death penalty against him again.

The first story that Robert gave the police, resulting in Anthony's arrest, was that Anthony had wanted a girl to have sex with, so Robert took Anthony to the house and Anthony ran inside. Robert said that he was outside and heard screaming and came in and found blood everywhere and Robert got some gasoline and set the house on fire.

During the trial one officer and one jailer gave testimony that Anthony had incriminated himself in the holding cell.

A few years before the crime took place, a former employer of Anthony's had given Anthony a switchblade knife as a gift. The employer had bought one for himself and one for Anthony. An investigator found out that Anthony had owned a knife, but had lost it two years before the murders. So the prosecution got the ex-employer's knife and testified in court that it fit the wounds of the victims, claiming the knife that Anthony used to own could have possibly been the murder weapon. The actual murder weapon was never found, and therefore never tested. But a knife just like it was used as evidence to convict Anthony.

Yolanda Mathis, Anthony's alibi witness, was at the trial to testify that she was with Anthony at his mother's house on the night of the crime. Just before Anthony's attorney was about to call Yolanda to the stand, the prosecutor asked the judge to clear the jury out of the courtroom so that he could put something in the record outside the presence of the jury. The judge granted his request.

When the jury was cleared from the courtroom, the prosecutor said that Anthony's alibi witness had become a suspect in the crime. The prosecutor went on to say that if Yolanda chose to testify, it was possible that they would seek an indictment of capital murder against her.

Anthony's attorney was so surprised that he went out of the courtroom and told Yolanda what the prosecutor had just said. Yolanda was so frightened that she refused to testify. She refused to even come into the courtroom.

Yolanda had previously testified at a grand jury proceeding that Anthony had been with her from the night before the killings to the following dawn. The prosecutor was present at that proceeding, questioned Yolanda, and knew the substance of what she would testify to at trial. She further testified that Anthony never left her side, and that she never saw him with the codefendant, nor did they leave Anthony's mother's apartment from the night before to the morning after the killings.

Anthony's attorney was ineffective, becoming unraveled at the prosecution's threat. The defense should have had Yolanda testify to the court about why she would not testify on Anthony's behalf. The lack of her testimony led the jury to believe Anthony was lying.

During closing arguments, the prosecutor asked the jury, "Where is this alibi witness that Mr. Graves claims to have been with? Why wasn't she here to testify?"

In the more than four years since the trial, Yolanda has never been charged, indicted, arrested, or publicly discussed outside the Court as a suspect in the killings. No evidence, forensic, physical, testimony, or otherwise, ever materialized to remotely connect Yolanda with these events, other than her alibi of Anthony.

Anthony's brother, Arthur, testified that he was with them at their mother's house that night and that they had all stayed up late talking. Arthur told the court that Yolanda and Anthony were sleeping on the living room floor and that he had to step over them when he went to make sure the front door was locked.

The testimony of Anthony's mother's supervisor made it clear that Anthony's mother had *never even applied for the job to which the adult victim had been promoted.* They worked in the same institution, but were employed in different capacities there. The prosecution lost its "motive."

Robert Carter's stepdaughter, Anthony's cousin's daughter, testified that Robert didn't even know Anthony and that Anthony had not visited their house since they had been married.

One of Robert Carter's neighbors testified that he had never seen Anthony around Robert's house and that he had never seen Robert and Anthony together.

On November 1, 1994, Anthony was convicted of the murders and sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit.

On January 13, 1995 Anthony was granted a post-conviction hearing on a motion for a new trial. During the hearing, Anthony's alibi witness took the stand and testified that she and Anthony had been together the whole night that this crime was committed. She told them she hadn't testified at the trial because the prosecutor threatened her. The judge denied the motion for a new trial.

Anthony's case was sent to the court of criminal appeals and on April 23, 1997, the court of criminal appeals, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed his case.

November 12, 1997 and December 1, 1997, Anthony was granted an evidentiary hearing. At this hearing, Dr. Harold Gill-King, director of the laboratory for Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology, testified that a person can manipulate a blade once it is in the wound, and the methods used to test this twin knife were unreliable. He said the methods they used had altered the evidence, and that such tests could lead to false or misleading impressions of what the evidence actually showed. He also stated that the conclusions drawn from the testing were ill founded and not reliable.

Robert Carter recanted his testimony and stated that Anthony is innocent of the crime on videotape and in a written statement. He also said that he repeatedly told investigators, the prosecution and his attorney of Anthony's actual innocence but no one would listen to him. His recanted testimony was admitted to the court during the evidentiary hearing, but because he wasn't there to be cross-examined by the prosecutor, the judge would not admit it as evidence, nor would he admit the videotaped statement into evidence.

All the new evidence was filed into Anthony's state habeas and presented to the court of criminal appeals. After reviewing Anthony's case, the court set aside a rare date for oral argument in front of the nine judges. On February 3, 2000, the criminal court of appeals ruled against Anthony's case. Two of the judges said that Anthony's case should be granted relief.

Robert Carter was executed on May 31, 2000. In his last statement, he said Anthony is innocent. "Anthony Graves did not have any part in the murders and was not present before, during or after I committed the multiple murders at the Davis home."

On May 18, he also gave an 85-page deposition to the court about Anthony's innocence. He wrote, "Anthony Graves did not have any part in the murders and was not present before, during or after I committed the multiple murders at the Davis home."

Anthony sits on death row today, waiting to be executed for a horrible crime he did not commit. Unless Anthony can get attention drawn to his case, the state of Texas is going to murder him. On April 25, 2000, Anthony was granted a stay of execution so that he may continue the appeals process. Time is running out. Anthony needs your help.

For more information about this case, please see Anthony's web site at http://www.oranous.com/texas/graves/Graves.html, or contact Bonnie Caraway by e-mail at bonnie2@txucom.net.

Justice Denied