Man freed in Missouri delayed imprisonment case - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Man freed in Missouri delayed imprisonment case

Posted: Updated:
Cornealious "Mike" Anderson spent 13 years free from prison due to a clerical error, then nearly a year behind bars when the mistake was caught. (AP Photo) Cornealious "Mike" Anderson spent 13 years free from prison due to a clerical error, then nearly a year behind bars when the mistake was caught. (AP Photo)
By JIM SALTER
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, Mo. (AP) - Cornealious "Mike" Anderson spent 13 years free from prison due to a clerical error, then nearly a year behind bars when the mistake was caught. On Monday, he walked out of a southeast Missouri courtroom a free man again - this time with no need to look over his shoulder.

Mississippi County Associate Circuit Judge Terry Lynn Brown needed just a 10-minute hearing before ruling that he was giving Anderson credit for time served for all 4,794 days between his conviction and when he was arrested last year. The judge granted Anderson his immediate freedom.

Anderson, 37, left the courthouse with his wife and 3-year-old daughter on one arm, his mother on the other, tears in all of their eyes.

"Very happy," Anderson said as he climbed into a sport utility vehicle for the ride home to suburban St. Louis and a planned family celebration. "My faith has always been in God. I'm just so thankful. That God for everybody."

Anderson was 23 when he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in the robbery of a fast-food restaurant's assistant manager. He told The Associated Press last month that he waited, and even asked about going to prison, but the order never came.

In the years since his conviction, Anderson started his own construction-related businesses, married and had children. He also coached youth football and volunteered at his church in Webster Groves, Missouri.

At the hearing Monday, Anderson's attorney, Patrick Megaro, said Anderson remained out of prison through no fault of his own, and in the intervening years, turned his life around.

"He has been able to accomplish for himself what the criminal justice system does not accomplish in many situations," Megaro told the judge.

Brown agreed. He pointed out that Anderson's crime was serious, but acknowledged that he's a far different man now than he was then.

"You've been a good father," Brown said. "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."

As the judge announced his decision, about 10 of Anderson's relatives broke out in sobs and cried. Some hugged and thanked God.

Anderson's plight drew international headlines last month. An online petition on change.org includes more than 35,000 signatures urging the state to set him free.

The release was met with virtually no resistance from the Missouri Attorney General's Office. Assistant Attorney General Michael Spillane told Brown the court should consider the seriousness of Anderson's crime, but also Anderson's behavior over the 13 years of his freedom and the impact that imprisonment would have on his family.

Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement, "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. Today's outcome appears to appropriately balance the facts as we understand them."

The judge said that rather than grant parole, Anderson would get credit for the entirety of the time he should have been in prison. The distinction is important because it means Anderson doesn't have to report to a parole agent.

Megaro lauded the state's understanding of an occurrence that is exceedingly rare.

"This was not an easy case," Megaro said. "I believe it teaches us that justice can be swift, justice can be harsh, but justice also can be merciful."

Anderson had never been convicted of a serious crime before the robbery. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the holdup, then told to wait for orders that would specify when and where he was to report to prison. But the orders never came. Anderson suspected that his case had been overlooked and asked his former attorney what to do.

"Day by day, month by month, year by year, time passed, and they never picked me up," he said in an interview last month with The Associated Press.

A court filing by the attorney general's office said the mistake happened when a trial court clerk failed to inform the Missouri Supreme Court that Anderson was free on bond after his initial conviction.

So Anderson went about his life, never trying to conceal his whereabouts or identity. He married, divorced, married again. He raised three children of his own and a stepchild, owned and operated three construction businesses. He coached his son's youth football team in Webster Groves, and he ran the video operation at his church.

In July, Anderson's sentence was supposed to end. It was then that someone at the Missouri Department of Corrections realized he had never been put behind bars. Eight U.S. marshals arrived one morning at his home in a middle-class neighborhood and took him away. He was in prison by noon that day, and had remained behind bars until Monday.

The hearing was in Charleston, Mo., because that's where Anderson had been imprisoned.

"Go home to your family, Mr. Anderson," Brown said after his ruling.

  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 8:55 AM EDT2014-08-27 12:55:56 GMT
    Gadsden's Mayor Sherman Guyton wins reelection with 56% of the votes. The city also voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales with over a 2-1 ratio; 68% to 32%.More >>
    Gadsden's Mayor Sherman Guyton wins reelection with 56% of the votes. The city also voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales with over a 2-1 ratio; 68% to 32%.More >>
  • Anniston police and fire departments downsized by proposed budget cuts

    Anniston police and fire departments downsized by proposed budget cuts

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-08-27 00:01:02 GMT
    The Anniston city manager's proposed budget for 2015 cuts more than $1.5-million in spending compared to this year. The police and fire chiefs are concerned about the cuts to public safety.More >>
    The Anniston city manager's proposed budget for 2015 cuts more than $1.5-million in spending compared to this year. The police and fire chiefs are concerned about the cuts to public safety.
    More >>
  • Third anniversary of murder of Anniston police officer

    Third anniversary of murder of Anniston police officer

    Monday, August 25 2014 8:44 PM EDT2014-08-26 00:44:45 GMT
    The family of Justin Sollohub took him off of life support three years ago Monday. "He lived from the 24th to the 25th for the organ donation," Jeniffer Morris said about her son. "Organ donation needs to be important to everybody. We never know, when there's somebody in our [family], when it hits home, that somebody needs an organ. It is important to us but it needs to be important to everybody."More >>
    The family of Justin Sollohub took him off of life support three years ago Monday. "He lived from the 24th to the 25th for the organ donation," Jeniffer Morris said about her son. "Organ donation needs to be important to everybody. We never know, when there's somebody in our [family], when it hits home, that somebody needs an organ. It is important to us but it needs to be important to everybody."More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Veterans traveling long distances for care after state budget cuts

    Veterans traveling long distances for care after state budget cuts

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-08-28 03:31:24 GMT
    Budget cuts are causing a new health care crisis for Alabama veterans.  More >>
    Budget cuts are causing a new health care crisis for Alabama veterans.  More >>
  • Cowabunga! Storm sends big waves to California

    Cowabunga! Storm sends big waves to California

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 9:38 PM EDT2014-08-28 01:38:44 GMT
    The surf was churning in Southern California, and even bigger waves were brewing.More >>
    Thundering surf spawned by a Pacific hurricane pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town while drawing daredevil surfers and body-boarders into churning, 20-foot...More >>
  • Alabama leads nation in Advanced Placement gains

    Alabama leads nation in Advanced Placement gains

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 9:18 PM EDT2014-08-28 01:18:05 GMT
    Alabama is leading the nation in improvements on Advanced Placement tests used to qualify high school students for college credits. Governor Robert Bentley and State School Superintendent Tommy Bice announced the results of a study in Montgomery. Over the last six years Alabama students have an increase of 136 percent in the number of Advanced Placement exams passed in mathematics, science and English. The national increase over the same period time was 49 percent. The number of qualifying sc...More >>
    Alabama is leading the nation in improvements on Advanced Placement tests used to qualify high school students for college credits. Governor Robert Bentley and State School Superintendent Tommy Bice announced the results of a study in Montgomery. Over the last six years Alabama students have an increase of 136 percent in the number of Advanced Placement exams passed in mathematics, science and English. The national increase over the same period time was 49 percent. The number of qualifying sc...More >>
  • Law enforcement ready to push water safety during Labor Day weekend

    Law enforcement ready to push water safety during Labor Day weekend

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 8:13 PM EDT2014-08-28 00:13:22 GMT
    A young man drowned in Cleburne County Wednesday at Cheaha Lake. The emergency situation encouraged ABC 33/40 to looking into water safety. Law enforcement is thinking safety as we head into the unofficial last weekend of the summer.More >>
    A young man drowned in Cleburne County Wednesday at Cheaha Lake. The emergency situation encouraged ABC 33/40 to looking into water safety. Law enforcement is thinking safety as we head into the unofficial last weekend of the summer.More >>
  • Alabama's Trey DePriest will not play vs West Virginia

    Alabama's Trey DePriest will not play vs West Virginia

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-08-27 23:46:55 GMT
    Starting linebacker Trey DePriest will not play in Alabama's season opener after he was suspended "for a minor NCAA infraction". Alabama coach Nick Saban said Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster will be the starting middle linebackers when the Tide play West Virginia on Saturday. Saban said DePriest will be available for the second game, against Florida Atlantic.DePriest started all 13 games last year and is a first-team All-SEC preseason pick. Alabama plays West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kick...More >>
    Starting linebacker Trey DePriest will not play in Alabama's season opener after he was suspended "for a minor NCAA infraction". Alabama coach Nick Saban said Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster will be the starting middle linebackers when the Tide play West Virginia on Saturday. Saban said DePriest will be available for the second game, against Florida Atlantic.DePriest started all 13 games last year and is a first-team All-SEC preseason pick. Alabama plays West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kick...More >>
  • East Birmingham mother of three pleading for help

    East Birmingham mother of three pleading for help

    East Birmingham mother of three pleading for help

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-08-27 23:06:31 GMT
    Whitney Taggart never thought she and her three children would be in this predicament since moving to Birmingham. Taggart doesn't have a job. Her house suffered damage due to a fire earlier this month. Weeks after the flames, the electricity still doesn't work and there's no running water.More >>
    Whitney Taggart never thought she and her three children would be in this predicament since moving to Birmingham. Taggart doesn't have a job. Her house suffered damage due to a fire earlier this month. Weeks after the flames, the electricity still doesn't work and there's no running water.More >>
  • What's up with that? Status of Birmingham's bond referendum and roads

    What's up with that? Status of Birmingham's bond referendum and roads

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-08-27 23:01:25 GMT
    In ABC 33/40's daily "What's Up with That Post" on Facebook, a viewer asked about the bumpy conditions on some of Birmingham's roads.More >>
    In ABC 33/40's daily "What's Up with That Post" on Facebook, a viewer asked about the bumpy conditions on some of Birmingham's roads.
    More >>
  • Josh Gordon: Suspension for substance abuse upheld by NFL; Browns lose star WR for 2014 season

    Josh Gordon: Suspension for substance abuse upheld by NFL; Browns lose star WR for 2014 season

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:52:18 GMT
    Josh Gordon's wait is over, so is his 2014 season. The star wide receiver's career is now in peril.More >>
    Josh Gordon's wait is over, so is his 2014 season. The star wide receiver's career is now in peril.
    More >>