Texas Prosecutor Who Withheld Evidence in Death Penalty Case Has Appeal of Disbarment Denied
Sebesta was disbarred for withholding evidence and using false testimony in a capital murder case
A former Texas district attorney disbarred for withholding evidence and using false testimony in a case that sent a man to death row lost his appeal on Monday to have his law license reinstated, PEOPLE confirms.
In June of 2015, former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta was disbarred by the State Bar of Texas after an investigation into the 1994 conviction of Anthony Graves, which was overturned by an appeals court in 2010.
After Graves filed a grievance against the prosecutor in 2014, a panel’s investigation found Sebesta had withheld evidence and used false testimony in the case. In 2010, Graves was released from death row – 18 years after being put there.
“It was a really good day for justice,” Graves tells PEOPLE of Monday’s news. “The ruling helped save lives. There’s no telling how many more innocent lives Sebesta has affected.”
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In 1992 six family members were stabbed or shot in their sleep at a home in Somerville, Texas. The bodies were discovered by firefighters after the killer set the house ablaze to hide evidence of the murders. Two men were arrested in connection to the gruesome murder: Robert Early Carter and Anthony Graves.
Carter initially confessed to the crime and said Graves was also involved, but just before taking the witness stand, he recanted the part about Graves. However, Sebesta withheld this information from Graves’ trial.
Graves’ case was the subject of an Emmy-winning episode of 48 Hours entitled ‘Grave Injustice.’
After his conviction was overturned in 2010, former Harris County District Attorney Kelly Siegler told reporters that Graves’ case represented “a criminal justice system nightmare.”
Today, Graves has become an motivational speaker and advocate for wrongly convicted death row inmates. His Houston based non-profit, the Anthony Graves Foundation, focuses on low-income families and communities.
Graves says that the finalizing of Sebesta’s disbarment should compel the reexamination of other questionable convictions and prosecutorial misconduct: “This is just the beginning. That door that some people would think has now been closed is wide open. We need to go through it and see who’s in that room and clean it out.”
He adds, “And I started with Charles.”