Dan Riley [00:00:19]:
Anthony? Well, I first want to just say what a pleasure it is to meet you, to get to have met you a little bit over the last half an hour, hour or so. And thanks for inviting me into your home. It's wonderful to be able to have this combo with you. And welcome to the show.
Anthony Graves [00:00:34]:
Oh, wow. Thank you, man. Thank you for having me on your show.
Dan Riley [00:00:37]:
My pleasure. I would love to start. I know there's a variety of different topics that we have talked about getting into, and I'm sure we will talk about, but I always like to start at the beginning and introduce people by their own story of themselves. And maybe to start, we can begin with who you were as a young man, who you were as a young boy. What's your story? Where do you come from? How do you explain the first years of your life before the hell that you ran into later in your life, which we will get into. But prior to that, who were you?
Anthony Graves [00:01:15]:
Well, I was just a young kid, man. Grew up in a small town, Bruno, Texas, and I love sports. I was the oldest of five siblings. My mother worked to take care of us. My father, well, he worked, but we didn't have that great of a relationship. But I was just that kid, man. I was that positive kid, man, that loved sports. I was very good in sports.
Anthony Graves [00:01:46]:
I was a leader. I could tell that because a lot of people are following me. Right. Always loved being around me, so I recognized my leadership abilities early on in my life, but I became a father at an early age. I was just turning 15 when I had my first son. Shock of my life, because it was the first time I ever had sex. Yeah, it was a shock of my life. You would think if you was looking on the outside that I was just some young pervert.
Anthony Graves [00:02:13]:
But it was my first time ever having sex. And the girl, it was her first time. And we got pregnant and I cried, man, like a baby, because I was only 15. And what are my peers are going to think about me? But at the end of the day, I stepped up and accepted my responsibility as a young dad. I took care of my son. I end up going to work while being in school to take care of my son. I ended up my last year of school, quitting school and going and getting my Ged a couple of months after because I was working full time to raise my son and I chose to provide for him. So I basically chose his life over mine at an early age.
Anthony Graves [00:02:56]:
And I don't regret it. And, yeah, man. So after that, I ended up with two other kids. I have a total of three boys. They were all young when my life changed, but I ended up just working. I worked as a machinist for several years and I just had a regular life, man. I was doing what I thought were the right things. I had my family, I had a lot of love.
Anthony Graves [00:03:29]:
I had a lot of friends, community support me. And I just felt like I was overall good person. And then my life changed.
Dan Riley [00:03:38]:
That's the second time you mentioned that phrase, your life changed. Why don't we start with maybe the moment for you where you realized that something had happened or something was brewing that might really affect or derail or ruin your life. What was the person who came to visit you, whether it was a police officer or someone else, where it triggered in your brain? This is a very serious situation I'm in now.
Anthony Graves [00:04:11]:
Oh, wow, man. That was a process because let me start off and explain to your audience the nature of this story. A crime had taken place and six people were murdered, an entire family. Four of those people were children on the age of ten. One was a 16 year old teenage daughter and that was a 45 year old grandmother. And they were shot, stabbed, blunged to death. Gasoline was poured all over their bodies and the house was burned down in an obvious attempt to cover up the crime. Okay, and so imagine the next day in this little small town of about 2000, 3000 people hearing about what happened in their community.
Anthony Graves [00:05:01]:
That was outrage. So much so that the mayor of that little old community came out the next day in the papers and said whoever had done that crime didn't even deserve a trial, that they should be caught and hung. And that's kind of way they pursued the case because a week later they had the funeral and the Texas Rangers was there. While they were there, a young man showed up and he had bandages on, wrapped around his head and on his hand as though he had been in a fire. So he immediately became the person of interest to the Texas Rangers. And after the funeral, they walked up to him and asked if they could talk with him. He agreed. So they followed him home, him and his wife.
Anthony Graves [00:05:42]:
And once they got home, he got in the police vehicle with them and they took him to the DPS office where they interrogate this young man over 14 hours. Now, no one really knows everything that the young man was saying, but at the end of it, they told him that they didn't think that he did this crime by himself and they wanted him to give the name of a person who had done it with him and they would let him go. Because they wanted the other person, because the other person was supposed to have done the bad acts. So when this opportunity to save this young man, when this opportunity for him to save himself, he made up a lie. And along the way, he called my name and said that I was involved in a crime with him. Why did he call my name? Well, according to the young man is that when they were on their way to the DPS office, he thought he'd seen a jeep coming off the freeway onto the feeder, and there were four young black men in it, and he thought one of them was me. So when they got to the DPS office and they started interrogating, then they told him they just want him to give the name of someone else that did it, and they would let him go. He said, just call my name, because he thought he had just seen me.
Anthony Graves [00:06:56]:
And then they asked him for the story, and he gave him, like, seven different stories. And once he gave them a story that fit their theory, they turn around, arrest and charge him with capital murder. And then they come knock on my door. Well, actually, it was my neighbor that knocked on my door several hours later. This is a Sunday morning, about 11:00 a.m. I'll never forget. I had just waken up and my neighbor knocking on my door. And he was like, I opened up door and his name was Mike.
Anthony Graves [00:07:24]:
And he was like, hey, man, the police looking for you? And I was like, the police looking for me for what? He said, I don't know, man, but they just asked me if that was your vehicle out there. So make a long story short, I thanked him. But in my mind, I'm trying to figure out why would the police be looking for me. So I called my auntie because I felt like my auntie. I go to a home every day, and if the police was looking for me, they would have to have gone by there, because that's my routine. So when I called my auntie and asked her, hey, had the police come by looking for me? She said, no. I said, well, Mike just told me that the police looking for me. She said, well, why don't you just call the police and find out what's going on? So I said, all right, and I hung up.
Anthony Graves [00:08:06]:
And I decided, well, instead of calling the police, I'm going to go look for the police. So I put a shirt on, I went downstairs, and I walked outside to look for the police. And when the police pulled up, I stopped. Police get out of his vehicle. He looks at me, asks me my name. I tell him he asked me for some id. I show it to him, and then he told me that he had to take me to the station, that some officers want to talk to me. But I'm asking him, can you tell me what for? Because I'm thinking this may be a ticket roundup, but I don't have a ticket out.
Anthony Graves [00:08:38]:
So I don't know what to think. Why would the police be looking for me? So by this time, my neighbor walk outside, Mike, and he's telling say, hey, man, no. When he walks outside, I'm telling him, hey, Mike. This officer said I have to go to police station for something, but my mom on the way home, could you let her know until I should be right back home? Because I don't know why I'm being. Having to go to the police station, but I know I haven't done nothing wrong. So it's comfortable for me to say, tell I should be right back home. I don't want her to worry. But that's just not how it worked out.
Anthony Graves [00:09:14]:
Because when I got in that police vehicle with that officer and he took me to the police station, and we get there and then he walks me into the police station, into the booking room and asked me to take everything out of my pockets and have a seat, I sat there and nobody was talking to me for about 1520 minutes. It's just officers just walking in and out of the booking room when nobody said nothing to me. So I started asking officers, hey, man, can somebody tell me why I'm here? Because it's a Sunday and I'm ready to go because I have plans. This is Sunday. And nobody would say nothing to me. And then the Texas Ranger, the magistrate, walks in there, asked me to stand up and began reading me my rights. When they began reading me my rights, at the end, they told me, you're being charged with capital to murder, and I have no bond. That's when I knew this is serious.
Anthony Graves [00:10:15]:
Because up until then, I just thought, okay, well, this is a ticket or something, but they just told me I'm being charged with capital murder. That's when I knew that it was serious. That's when I knew it was serious, man.
Dan Riley [00:10:35]:
That'S the start. It's certainly not the end. That's actually just the beginning of what ended up becoming an enormous part of the rest of your life. That's a Sunday afternoon that changed the course of everything for you. What's next? What in sitting here today is important for you to remember what happened in terms of your psychology, in terms of legally with the rest of your story, it sounds like you weren't able to post a bond or weren't able to get out. So what happened next?
Anthony Graves [00:11:13]:
What happened is that the american criminal justice system failed me and my family terribly, horribly. So much so that they almost killed me. Because when they arrested me, man, I stayed in jail two and a half years, waiting on trial, begging these people to take me to trial, because in my mind, I just wanted to get to trial, let the truth come out so I can go home. I've been in jail two and a half years for something I know absolutely nothing about. And finally they decided they're going to give me a trial. But what I didn't know, they gave us a change of venue because of so much publicity. But what I didn't know, the change of venue was where they had tried another capitol murder and warned it was the only other capital murder that they ever tried and warned. What I didn't know is also the town that they were sending me to had a history of racism.
Anthony Graves [00:12:05]:
Right? I didn't know this. And I just want to do whatever I need, I have to do so that the truth can come out and I can go home. I don't care where you sending me, where we're going to do this at. My focus is on the truth coming out so I can go home. That's it. But along the way, I had a prosecutor who was over here cutting corners, closing doors, cheating, lying, doing every and anything he can to secure a conviction against an innocent person. I didn't know this because I'm thinking that everybody just want the truth, so I just want to get to court so that can happen. I didn't know that they were just trying to win a case, that they were seeking a conviction and not the truth.
Anthony Graves [00:13:00]:
I didn't know this.
Dan Riley [00:13:02]:
It sounds like the authorities, from the very beginning, concocted this idea that this could not have been an act that happened alone, that they had this theory that it was a two person, two people were participating in this mass murder. Where did that come from? And during that two and a half years, when you're waiting for trial, tell me about what's happening with you internally, how you're trying to help yourself during that period to no avail, without the ability of getting out of prison. Right.
Anthony Graves [00:13:37]:
Well, with me, my mindset is to cooperate 110% because I'm innocent. And the more I cooperate, the quicker this thing can be over with. So I can go home. That's my mind. But days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years. And now I'm left to wonder, are they really wanting the truth, or they're just trying to convict this young black man who they now know don't have any resources to defend himself. I have the truth, but that's not good enough, not in our criminal justice system. If you are innocent, do not think that that alone will keep you out of prison.
Anthony Graves [00:14:21]:
I'm here to tell you that's not true. It's your resources, and I didn't have any of those. I had no resources. I was a young black man who had been accused of a crime, who had to go into a courtroom where the judge was white, where the prosecutor team was white, and where the jury was white. It was just me and my black attorneys was in there trying to convince a white group of people that I didn't do the things that they're accusing me of. And I think we can all feel very confident in knowing how this turned out. Right? I ended up losing 18 and a half years of my life trying to convince white people who didn't know me that I was innocent. I had alibi witnesses, but I still spent 18 and a half years in prison.
Anthony Graves [00:15:13]:
Twelve and a half on death row with two execution dates, and witnessing over 400 people being murdered around me. That's my story. Yeah, that's what happened after they kept me two and a half years, they finally took me to trial, and they convicted me with no evidence, with practically an all white jury, except for one black man who the jury picked to be the foreman of the jury. I never forget that when they picked the foreman of the jury. Let me just go back. So when I get to Angerton, the first thing we do when we start trial, you have what is known as called voidai. Picking the jury. That's voidai.
Anthony Graves [00:15:58]:
So anytime any audience will get a notification from the courts to show up for jury, it's called vodae. Picking up the jury. Now, you got to remember that those people come off the streets. They're laborers. They might be professionals in another field, but not in criminal justice. They know nothing about the criminal justice system, but they're good Samaritans. They have a responsibility to make sure that our system works. So they show up and they're jurors, and now we in what is called vardai.
Anthony Graves [00:16:34]:
And I never forget, man, that. So, during Vardy, each potential juror is put up on the witness stand and examined by the defense attorney and the prosecutor. They get to ask them questions about how they feel about certain things revolving around criminal justice and I remember when every potential juror would get up on that stand and my attorney would ask him, how do you feel about my client, Mr. Gray, sitting in here today? Seven out of ten of them would say, well, he must have done something, otherwise you wouldn't have him here. These people became my jury, who had already determined that I must have done something, otherwise law enforcement wouldn't have me here. That's the uphill battle. You have to clam to prove your innocence, which is not the law, because you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But my jurors sit there and said, this man must have done something, otherwise you wouldn't have him here.
Anthony Graves [00:17:38]:
And they was selected to judge me now, but they already had judged me and they had already told you that. But see, we got what is called in our law, rehabilitation of a juror. See, that alone is enough to get to disqualify that juror. But the judge can rehabilitate him by asking him one simple question. Can you follow the law? Well, what juror going to sit up there and say, they can't follow the law? So the juror say, yes, I can follow the law. Oh, well, then you're a rehabilitated juror. You're qualified to serve on the juror, even though I heard you say that this man must have done something, otherwise he wouldn't be here, because you can follow the law. You're a qualified juror.
Anthony Graves [00:18:28]:
Those were the people judging me now. Yeah.
Dan Riley [00:18:32]:
Tell me about the night that you were accused of being a part of this heinous crime. What were you doing? What was the story? You were mentioning? Alibi witnesses, people who could corroborate your story. What was the defense that was presented at trial? What was the truth of what you actually were doing the evening of that murder?
Anthony Graves [00:18:50]:
Well, let me just ask a question, and I think we can sum this up. On a Monday night at 230 in the morning, why would you be asleep? You'd be asleep. And who would be there with you?
Dan Riley [00:19:06]:
My girlfriend. Or I'd be by myself.
Anthony Graves [00:19:07]:
Okay. So that night, I was at home with my family. My brother, my sister, my girlfriend, all night long. They were my alibi witness. They knew exactly where I was. Matter of fact, my brother stepped over me that night to make sure that the door was locked because me and my girlfriend fell asleep on the floor. Made a pattern on the floor. But when it was time for my brother and them to testify to my whereabouts, the prosecutor made it seem like that's my family.
Anthony Graves [00:19:39]:
They were lie for me. He discredit them. He discredit the truth because he said, that was my family. Well, who the hell would know where you were at 230 in the morning? Your family. Right. So when my family could get ready to testify to where I was, the prosecutor made them seem as though they just lying to have their brother. And the white jury that looked at like him believed him. So my brother and I, sitting there telling the truth, became liars.
Dan Riley [00:20:09]:
Yeah. Talk to me about the attempt at the evidence that was presented against you. Right. There were these theories. There were these stories that the prosecution had come up with related to your guilt. How did they frame this? What were they able to present as evidence to attempt to convict you?
Anthony Graves [00:20:28]:
Nothing. Robert Carter, the guy that lied on me, who they said, is that. Can you point out the guy in the courtroom that did this crime with you? Because they had him testify. He said, yes. They said, well, point him out. And he pointed at me, but he didn't look at me. And then they came up with this theory about a knife that I own two years previous that employer of mine had given to me as a gift. It was a little flimsy knife kit that he had gotten two years prior.
Anthony Graves [00:21:02]:
So they go and talk to this man, and he tells them this, but he tell them, I've never seen him carry any weapon. And I played softball with him. I was his coach. I hold. Held things for him. Never. Because it was a souvenir that he had given to me that was cheap. Well, they got his, but they never found the one that I had on.
Anthony Graves [00:21:23]:
But they. Hmm. The one he got fits the wound. So the one that he gave Mr. Grace is the murder weapon. Although we never found it, although we never tested it. Although these other knives that have been brought into the courtroom and used by the defense, although all these other knives fit, we still think that knife that Mr. Grace had two years ago was probably that knife.
Anthony Graves [00:21:50]:
Dan Riley [00:21:51]:
The other co defendant, the man who testified against you, you said pointed at you, but wouldn't look at you in court. Who is he? What was your relationship with him prior to the.
Anthony Graves [00:22:01]:
No relationship at all. His name was Mr. Robert Carter, and he was married to a cousin of mine that I grew up. You know, we were grown mean. She was my cousin, but we wasn't like best friends, right. Life goes on. But she was my cousin. And I guess he knew from her talking about her family tree who I was, but that's it.
Anthony Graves [00:22:25]:
We didn't have no kind of relationship. He couldn't even tell you what they called me. On the streets. He knew about me from his wife. That's it. And that's sad, because a man who did not know me, our criminal justice system allowed him to almost take my life to save his own.
Dan Riley [00:22:48]:
You indicated earlier, too, that part of the incentive for him to create this story was some sort of a potential deal that he was being offered by law enforcement.
Anthony Graves [00:22:58]:
Dan Riley [00:22:58]:
Did that hold? What was he being in reality? And eventually, what kind of an offer was he presented with for testifying against you?
Anthony Graves [00:23:08]:
Okay. The first offer that he was presented with for lying on me initially was that they would let him go. They just want the other guy. That's what made him lie, because he thought they would let him go. They turned around and then charged him with capital murder after they got him to lie. And then when we get to court two and a half years later, what they had done is already had arrested and charged his wife with capital murder, put her in jail for two months, and then released her on a PR bond, personal, recognizable bond, and then told her to move forward and forget about the case because there's no statute of limitations. And then they goes to Mr. Carter and says, Mr.
Anthony Graves [00:23:47]:
Carter, you continue to give the story against Mr. Grace, or we're going to go back after your wife. So Mr. Carter said that he felt like he was between a rock and a hard place. Here it is. He knew that Mr. Grace was innocent, that he had lied on Mr. Graves.
Anthony Graves [00:24:01]:
He knew that his wife was innocent. But if he don't continue to lie on Mr. Graves, they're going to go back after his wife. So he said he went ahead on it and lied on Mr. Graves. Now, the deal that they also made with him was that because they already convicted him of capital murder, was that if his case got overturned, they would not seek the death penalty against him again. But he had to give this story that implicated Mr. Gray.
Dan Riley [00:24:30]:
Meanwhile, you're going through this, right? You're sitting in the courtroom. Every day you're sitting in jail, and then in a courtroom, I think to a lot of people who are listening to this, this is near a worst case scenario that anyone can possibly envision for how their life is unfolding. And you live through that. Talk to me about, just as a human being, what was going on inside of you in the two years leading up to the trial, during the trial. And then when you actually were convicted, what in the hell were you experiencing during that time?
Anthony Graves [00:25:06]:
Naivety. I was just naive to believe that innocence enough was going to vindicate me. I was naive to believe that innocence enough was going to allow me to go home. So I was being patient. I was being very cooperative. I just want to go home. And whatever they needed out of me, I was willing to give just so I can go home, because I shouldn't be in jail. I'm not a criminal.
Anthony Graves [00:25:35]:
But I'm sitting here two and a half years. I'm reading the Bible, I'm praying, I'm doing all the right things. I'm cooperating. And yet they're still trying to kill me. The ticker is, and they know I'm innocent because the man has been telling them this. We just didn't know he had been telling them that. Mr. Carter been telling them from day one after they arrested him.
Anthony Graves [00:26:05]:
He lied. Mr. Graze is innocent. That's when they went after his wife and then put in jail for two months, released her and told her, keep going forward. No statute of limitation on capital.
Dan Riley [00:26:19]:
Just to clarify what you just said right now, right to reiterate that in the privacy of private conversation outside of the court of law, that man is telling the prosecution or people in law enforcement that he had concocted this entire story against you, that you had nothing to do with this. And the state continued with its prosecution against you as an individual.
Anthony Graves [00:26:42]:
Dan Riley [00:26:42]:
Is that correct?
Anthony Graves [00:26:43]:
As absolutely correct? Absolutely. It's documented, absolutely correct. This man was telling them, anthony Graves is an innocent man. I lied on this man. This man knows nothing. That wasn't enough. They still pursue me. Why? I see young black man in a rural town in Texas.
Anthony Graves [00:27:05]:
I got a racist prosecutor. You think he gonna do right by me? He got two young black men in his crosshairs right now. You think he going to let one of us go? Two black man's on one day is a good day for a racist. He had a good date. He had a good year. They awarded him prosecutor of the year by wrongfully convicted me. You think that he was just going to let me go because this man was trying to tell him the truth? No. This went on for 18 and a half years.
Anthony Graves [00:27:42]:
They tried to murder me twice knowing that I was innocent. I had to witness over 400 men getting executed around me that I was growing up with because they put me on death row for some I don't know nothing about. And this is how I had to live, man.
Dan Riley [00:28:00]:
Anthony Graves [00:28:01]:
Knowing that I was innocent. Knowing that they knew I was innocent, but they wasn't telling the rest of the world. They wasn't telling the rest of the world, but they knew. The prosecutor knew. That's why today his ass is disbarred because of what he did to me.
Dan Riley [00:28:21]:
Yeah, that was eventually revealed, right? I mean, this information eventually surfaced. This man, as you mentioned, has been disbarred.
Anthony Graves [00:28:28]:
Dan Riley [00:28:29]:
The day on which you were convicted. Right. I mean, there is something cinematic about the american justice system in criminal cases where you stand up and hear from the foreman what the result has been of the jury. Talk about what that day was like for you. I'm wondering if at that moment, that naivete, that cooperation, the high spiritedness of the young man who grew up in this state, was still optimistic that the truth would prevail, or were you scared for your life at that moment?
Anthony Graves [00:29:06]:
No, I wasn't optimistic at that point because what, I've seen the setup. I've seen an all white prosecutor team. I've seen a white judge. I've seen eleven white people in my jury box, and I've seen one black man that they made, the former that they really built up because he got in the Purple Heart out of the military. I had a prosecutor really praising him. I knew then I was in trouble. And why? Because I've never seen why eleven white people will be so willing to follow one black man that they will elect him to follow him. I knew then what they were going to do.
Anthony Graves [00:29:48]:
They were going to convict me before they even hear this case. And it was going to make the jury the face of that black man. And that black man did not understand that because he had become the foreman, he cannot be the only person to vote not guilty because they would think he's playing the race card. So he became our worst juror because they took his power from him, and he did not understand what was going on. They played him up. They talked about his accomplishments. They really played him up. And then they suck him after me.
Anthony Graves [00:30:24]:
They told him, you're going to be the former. We're going to put your face as the former, and you're going to go and you're going to help us convict this innocent black man. He didn't even know that, but that's the role he played. And I wish I could ever see him one day and I would tell him, out of all the people, it was you that I thought would do the right thing. Based on history, based on our history. I thought you would hold them accountable. And it was you who was my worst juror. Fuck you.
Anthony Graves [00:30:58]:
That's what I would tell him.
Dan Riley [00:31:00]:
Yeah. You get convicted of a crime like that, as you, I'm sure, well know when it happened, your life is over. Right? And you're probably realizing at the time that not only are you going to lose a lot of time, you're probably going to lose your life in this.
Anthony Graves [00:31:19]:
Dan Riley [00:31:21]:
How did you possibly react to that reality? Right. You've mentioned 18 years a couple of times during this conversation, which is a lifetime, but it isn't your entire life. That's why we're having this conversation now. How did you survive? What was your response? What was your reaction to that conviction and your first time in jail, your sentencing, your realization of your new reality?
Anthony Graves [00:31:58]:
Well, first of all, I couldn't believe it. I mean, I'm a well loved person, many friends. I try to do the right thing, was trying to be a good father. And all of a sudden, just like that, I've been convicted and sentenced to death. I don't even know the people. They were killed. I don't know nothing. So I just could not wrap my mind around how my life got so caught up into something like this.
Anthony Graves [00:32:34]:
The crime happened in a town I don't even live in, don't even go to, but yet here I am. I've just been convicted of a horrible crime, of killing a family, a black family. This is crazy. So my mind will not even let me go past. The thought of this is just crazy. But reality slowly starts seeping in as the days turn the weeks and the weeks turn the months, and the months turn the years. These people really going to kill me. They're really going to kill me, and nobody's going to say anything.
Anthony Graves [00:33:10]:
Nobody's going to stand up for me. My family is going to have to deal with this for the rest of their life. What's going to happen to my mama? She know her son is innocent? Who's going to be there for her? What about my children? These people are really going to kill me. So if they're going to kill me, they might do that, but I'm going to let the whole world know what they're doing. And that's when I started an organization overseas called Join Hands for justice, because I was determined to let the whole world know that the state of Texas is trying to kill an innocent man. And I need your help. That's what I did. That's what I was thinking.
Dan Riley [00:33:49]:
Tell me about that. Right. That, at that time, I would have to imagine, is one of your only last options for resistance against the circumstance you have found yourself in, in life. What did you do? Who were the people you connected with when you started that organization?
Anthony Graves [00:34:03]:
Wow. Well, so anytime someone is sentenced to debt, they have these national and international pen pal banks. These are people who just sign up to write and befriend people who've been sentenced to death, just to let them know that there's somebody they care, that they're not alone. And so when I reached death row, a couple of people wrote to me from these pen pal banks just introducing themselves and just say that they just want to get to know who I am and stuff. And we started building relationships like that, and I ended up, man, with building relationship with people from all over Europe, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, you name it. People started writing me, and we started building relationships, and they started learning my story. Right. And then they started researching, and as they come to know my story, they was, like, appalled, and they couldn't believe that this would happen in Texas, in the, you know, this is the United States of America, and this is how they're treating their citizens.
Anthony Graves [00:35:09]:
So there was appall. So they all started getting together and trying to figure out how they could help me. They started fundraising. They started holding events. They started reaching out to media, and finally they got in touch with media over here. And an independent investigator, journalist came and visited me. And after we talked for about 2 hours, she was so blown away that she went to innocent Project Mr. David Dow and said, I think y'all need to get involved in this case, and that's how things start changing for me.
Anthony Graves [00:35:47]:
But make no mistake, this state had every intention of killing an innocent man. And what's going to bury that without you guys ever knowing it or even debating about it?
Dan Riley [00:36:01]:
By the time this investigative journalist shows up and talks to you, interviews you talk to for a couple of hours, which I think eventually ends up in this long form piece that articulates what had happened to you to a much wider audience in the US. You had been in prison for an extended period of time by that point.
Anthony Graves [00:36:19]:
Dan Riley [00:36:19]:
How long had you been in, I.
Anthony Graves [00:36:22]:
Had been in prison eight years before this journalist came and talked to me. I had done another show called Democracy now with Amy Goodman, and so the word had started getting out about my case, but it really didn't break until this investigative journalist came and talked to me. I can't think of her name. I would love to think of her name, but, yeah, she came and talked to me eight years after I was there, had already been there eight years, had already experienced about 200, 300 people getting executed around me that I come to know at that time. So this has gotten real serious, right? I've now had a chance to think about my own mortality, what I would want to eat if it got to that point. What I want my last speech to be if it got to that point. I've done all of this by now, right? Because even though I'm innocent, I'm seeing so much injustice around me. I'm seeing other guys, cases that have little to no evidence and they're still getting executed.
Anthony Graves [00:37:30]:
I'm hearing guys profess their innocence and they're still getting executed. I witnessing guys mentally ill, mentally challenged, and they still getting executed. I'm seeing these young guys come down there, 17 years old, and until the Supreme Court, out loud, execution cuting children, they were getting executed. So I was witnessing everybody getting executed for whatever claims they had. And so now I'm looking at me and my innocent claim, and I'm saying, that's a good chance I'm going to get executed. So if that's going to happen, then I need to make sure that my mom, my kids, and the rest of the world know the truth. They may carry me out in a pine box, but it's going to be a bunch of murderers carrying me because I'm going to let the world know they just murdered me. For some I knew absolutely nothing about, that was my mindset.
Dan Riley [00:38:27]:
This is a part of american culture, death row inmates, right, that so few people will ever know anything about, will ever visit, will ever meet someone who has lived there. And you lived that life. For people who are listening to this, that are curious about what that experience is like, you were talking about all these people that you just rattled off, who you knew who were executed. What's the experience like of living in that kind of a climate, right? And I know there were a couple of times where you were scheduled to be executed and it didn't take place. Talk to me about all of that.
Anthony Graves [00:39:03]:
Well, I mean, yeah, I was scheduled twice to be executed, and thank God it didn't take place. Otherwise all Texans would have my blood on their hands. But, yeah, I've seen guys that spending their last days, man, and finding peace within themselves after so much chaos in the environment they've lived in for so many years. Guys, the situation is so devastating. The conditions are so horrible that I was witnessing guys willing to drop their appeal so they can get executed because they just didn't want to endure anymore of this suffering. That's a hard thing, man. There were conversations I would have with someone say, man, I wouldn't want no life sentence, because a life sentence mean that I will have to be here for the rest of my life till I die. That's a death sentence.
Anthony Graves [00:40:02]:
He said, I'd rather take my chance on death row, filing my appeals. If I don't get out that way, then they just kill me. I don't have to spend the rest of my life just being down here like this.
Dan Riley [00:40:11]:
What are the conditions like in there? What's the day to day life of somebody who's on death row?
Anthony Graves [00:40:15]:
Well, I can't give you a picture, but what I can tell you is that what you think hell is? That's death row every day. So what you think your worst hell is? That's death row. Every day, every hour of every day. That is the conditions. Hell, I'm talking about when you have men, grown men, cutting their throat, slashing their wrist, dropping their appeals, just want to die. Not because they're guilty, although that could be part of it. But the conditions being treated subhuman all day, every day, being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it. No television, no telephone.
Anthony Graves [00:41:07]:
There's four walls closing in on you 23 hours a day. That you in there. Eight by ten, cage. That's it. A cage. You're in there all day, every day. On the weekends, you're just there. No shower, no nothing.
Anthony Graves [00:41:23]:
Monday through Fridays, you get 1 hour out of there to a bigger space with nothing else in it. Just space. Then you go back into your hole or your cage for the rest of your day, and then they give you a shower for seven minutes, and then they take you back. And that's your day. It's hell, man. It's designed to break a man's will to live. And it's working. I've seen it every day.
Anthony Graves [00:41:54]:
Young men. Young men crying out in the middle of the night because they didn't cut their throat, wanting to die. These are your children. These are your friends. These are the people that grew up down the street from you. Church members. They're down there on death row. They're being murdered in your name.
Anthony Graves [00:42:17]:
The state of Texas. You got blood on your hands. You got blood on your hands, and you got to stand up and do something, or you will continue to have blood on your hands. We got murderers in office, murdering our citizens. You have to do something with me, and that is to let these stories be told so that we understand what is going on in our criminal justice system. Yeah.
Dan Riley [00:42:47]:
It would seem to me that it would be the rule that people would lose their mind in that situation, that they would go mad, that they would become suicidal, that they would lose their will to live. What happened to you? How were you doing during that time? Did you get to that breaking point?
Anthony Graves [00:43:04]:
No. I never got to the point where I wanted to take my life. As I say, I was too naive to believe that at the end of the day, my life is going to end with them putting a needle in my arm for something I didn't do. I was just so naive to believe that I had loan to hope, hope that justice will prevail. This is why I end up writing my book, infinite hope, and calling it that. Because in the midst of all that chaos, I found a way to stay hopeful. And I think that had to do with putting something greater than myself above me so that I could stay focused on it. Some people call it God Jehovah or 99 other different names, and that's okay.
Anthony Graves [00:43:49]:
I called it hope, and that's what I had to hold on to, and I stayed focused on that, and it allowed me to maintain my sanity until I came home.
Dan Riley [00:44:05]:
You mentioned earlier that after eight years, an investigative journalist showed up, talked to you for a couple of hours. I'm curious if that is the first domino that fell in your mind, that began the process that led you home.
Anthony Graves [00:44:22]:
Looking back, I would say yes. But at that time, I didn't see it because nothing transpired for the next ten and a half years. That was year eight. I spent 18 and a half years down there. So I didn't see it as the first domino. I just seen that as another interview. But in hindsight, it was the first domino because that was the person that reached out to the innocent clinic on my behalf. The innocent clinic was doing a breakout session and had invited some journalist students, which is how I get to Nicole Casseris, who became my rock, who became the example of what a lawyer should do for their client that they believe in, who became the angel that God sent down from heaven to help me.
Anthony Graves [00:45:27]:
I mean, to sit and have to witness men being murdered, young men seeing that they're trying to go after you and murder you for something you didn't know anything about, and seeing the people in this state lining up to believe it. Man, we have a criminal system in place. It is the biggest criminal that we have in the state of Texas, and it's killing innocent people. And it's because of people like Nicole Casarez and Pamela Koloff and so many other great people that believe in doing the right thing and believe in justice and have humankindness in their heart. If it weren't for those people, people like me and 160 some other people across this country who have come off a death row, we would all be executed now for a crime we didn't even commit.
Dan Riley [00:46:34]:
Yeah, you mentioned that. In retrospect, you do think that was probably the first domino that led, even though it took another decade for you to get out what happened? Or what do you think with these journalists or with the innocence project? What did they learn about your story that resonated enough for them, for these people to take on your cause in the way that they did? Was it really that there was no legitimate evidence against your guilt? Was it meeting you and finding you persuasive? What do you think it was about you that led them to do what they did on your behalf?
Anthony Graves [00:47:13]:
I don't think it was nothing about me. As a matter of fact, Nicole told me that when she first started working on my case, for two years, she never even came to see me because she did not want to be convinced that I was innocent just by sitting there looking at me. So she took her time, methodically investigated my case, and that led her to the conclusion that this man is innocent. And that's when she came down there and met me. Yeah. I never, ever even tried to convince people that was working on my behalf that I was innocent, because I wanted them to come to that conclusion on their own. Okay. I never wanted no one to doubt me.
Anthony Graves [00:47:52]:
So I felt like, let the evidence, let the investigation lead them to the actual truth, and that would be my innocence. And that's the way we approach this. Yeah. It wasn't about them meeting me. It was about them investigating the case and realizing, oh, my goodness, this man is innocent. That's what moved him.
Dan Riley [00:48:15]:
I think that's an excellent point. So, Nicole, she's a lawyer, right? So you mentioned two women there, Nicole and Pam. Right? Nicole is a lawyer. Pam is a journalist.
Anthony Graves [00:48:26]:
Dan Riley [00:48:26]:
Talk to me about both of those women and what they did for you specifically.
Anthony Graves [00:48:32]:
Well, I mean, that's emotional for me, because these women, practically, are the reason why I'm still breathing today. Nicole came into my life through the innocent project as a journalist. She learned about my case. And for eight years after she turned over every rock, she talked to every witness. She drove hundreds of miles. She spent nights in her car outside of witnesses homes to talk to them. She did every and anything she could to help save an innocent man's life. That's what attorneys should do.
Anthony Graves [00:49:17]:
That's what Nicole did. That's why I started scholarship in her honor, because she is the eptem of what an attorney should be. Pamela Koloff. Pamela Koloff. Is a journalist. She was working for the Times, what you call it, the magazine here. Texas Monthly magazine. Yeah.
Anthony Graves [00:49:41]:
And she learned about my story through Nicole and she started investigating it and she started writing and she wrote up an article detailing the exact truth for the first time in my case. This woman really dug into my case and detailed it so that everyone read it, knew Anthony Graves was innocent. And a month later, all charges against me were dismissed. A month later. So this is why I tell you these two women are angels from heaven that was sent to save an innocent man's life. Pamela Nicolov, Nicole Caspers are my heroes because they saved my life. They are the reason I'm breathing today.
Dan Riley [00:50:43]:
It sounds like Nicole did a lot of the initial legwork and investigation and then handed over a lot of that information to Pam who then publicized this to a massive audience. Right. You're still sitting behind bars as they're doing this. You're still on death row as they're doing this. Is there a point during this process where you realize, like, holy shit, there's a chance something could happen here, that they're getting at the truth, they're getting at an audience. People are realizing what happened, that a mistake was made. What are you thinking as you're in jail during that time?
Anthony Graves [00:51:20]:
I'm not thinking any of that. I've been in jail long enough to know the realities of this situation and is that regardless of being innocent, people are dying, people are getting executed and they have the same claim. So I never got excited at any information as though this could be it. This could be what? Get me back home. I was prepared to die for the truth because I was going to compromise it. That's what my mind was. However this was going to play out. I was prepared to die for the truth and that's why I stayed.
Anthony Graves [00:52:07]:
I remember Nicole asked me one day if the state agreed to dismiss all the charges against you, but want you to say that you guilty. Would you be willing to do that? And I didn't think about it at all. I already knew that I would never do anything like that. But she, as my attorney, had to tell me everything. And I told Nicole, if that's what they will offer me, then they will be feed me in my cell tonight. They're going to kill me or they're going to free me because I'm not going to compromise the truth. And that's where I stood. I never got excited, I never got depressed.
Anthony Graves [00:52:56]:
I was determined to let the world know what was happening to me, even if it meant my death. I was willing to die for the truth. So that's where my mind was. The whole 18 and a half years, stand on the truth and be willing to die for it. That's where I was.
Dan Riley [00:53:16]:
And then Pam's article comes out, right? I mean, it's an astonishing fact that you just mentioned earlier that her article comes out and a month later, all charges are dropped.
Anthony Graves [00:53:26]:
Dan Riley [00:53:27]:
Talk to me about that month. How in the hell did that happen so quickly, man?
Anthony Graves [00:53:31]:
Well, I mean, because there had already been a lot of talk. What had happened is they had, several prosecutors had taken this case, and one reason or another, they found a reason to get off sighting health problems, something to do with the kid. But the reality was they realized this man was innocent, but nobody wanted to do the right thing. So they kept kicking the can down the road. This is how I ended up with a special prosecutor named Kelly Siegler, who has a show called Cold justice. That was my prosecutor, according to her. She told me that she came onto this case to put me back on death row and make sure that I didn't get off. But when she started investigating the case, according to Ms.
Anthony Graves [00:54:32]:
Sigler, she said she went through 25 boxes of what they call evidence, and that was not one piece of paper that linked Anthony Grace to this case. She said, but, anthony, I want to go further than that. She said, I had five investigators working this case with me, and I called each one in one by one. I wanted to know how did they feel about this case. She said, anthony, every investigator that came into my office said, this man is innocent. That's when I decided to go to the local prosecutor who had hired me to tell him, we need to dismiss these charges because you were innocent. That's how that happened. But Pamela Koloff and her amazing writing skills and her amazing investigation skills detail all the injustice that took place in my case, that a month later they had to dismiss those charges against me.
Dan Riley [00:55:39]:
So that article, as you mentioned, which has all the thorough details of your case, and it sounds like you're totally satisfied with her accounting of what had happened to you and her thoroughness in terms of her investigation, was that the article that triggered the special prosecutor who then recommended that your charges be dismissed?
Anthony Graves [00:55:58]:
I think so. Because according to the special prosecutor, she said after she read that article, she was like, well, how the hell they're going to kick my ass in the courtroom? That's what she said. She said she read that article, she knew that they was going to kick her ass in the courtroom. So she did the right thing. After believing herself that this man is innocent, she didn't kick the can down the road like the other nine prosecutors. She actually did the right thing and went, told him, this man is innocent and we have to release him. God was with me the whole way, and he brought the right people along.
Dan Riley [00:56:37]:
And I imagine eventually someone comes to tell you you're getting out of jail, right? This information eventually is conveyed to you. Tell me about that story. What was that day like? Who told you how things were unfolding?
Anthony Graves [00:56:53]:
I woke up in that morning. It was a Wednesday. And the reason why I know it was a Wednesday because it was visitation day at the jail, and my daughter was coming to see me. I had raised this young lady. Me and her mother had been together for so many years when she was a little girl I raised as my daughter, so we kept that relationship. And so she was coming to visit me that Wednesday, and at 03:00 they wrapped up our visit. She visited for 20 minutes. 03:00 they wrapped up our visits.
Anthony Graves [00:57:26]:
And she was telling me that she was going to come back the next week to see me. And I said, all right, well, baby, I'll see you later. When I got. They took me out, put me back in my cell, and I'm sitting there, and I'm trying to finish this letter that I'm writing to Pamela Koloff, answering some questions that she was asking me during our interview process. And the officer came to my window because I was in solitary confinement and I couldn't see out, but they could look in on me. And he raises up the flap and hiss on the window, and I look at him, and he tells me, hey, put your shirt on. Come go with me. And I said, where am I going? He said, just put your shirt on.
Anthony Graves [00:58:09]:
Come go with me. So I put my shirt on, and he opened up the steel doors. I was behind doubled steel doors and told me, come on, let's go. And we start walking down the hallway. But my mind is that my attorneys must be here. That's the only reason they'll come get me. But I noticed that we weren't going to the right where the attorney client usually had a visit. We was going straight up in the front.
Anthony Graves [00:58:36]:
And so I started getting paranoid because I don't have my attorneys with me. I'm with this officer, and I tell him, hey, man, I can't go nowhere with you without my attorneys. He said, just come on. We're walking up to the front, right? So we get up to the front, and he opened up this door, and I see my attorneys, Nicole and one of my other attorneys, Jimmy Phillips, Jr. But I could tell Nicole was disturbed. She was bothered because I could see she was batting back tears. But I'm saying, man, it's just some more bad news. But I don't care.
Anthony Graves [00:59:08]:
They're going to kill me. Are they going to free me? That's not going to be a compromise. I got my shield and my sword. They're going to kill me or they're going to free me. That's it. And as I'm thinking this, nicole opens up her mouth and say, anthony, you remember when you told me that God was good? I say, yeah, but I'm trying to figure out why is she going with this? Right? But I'm hungry at the same time. And I'm like, so where is she going with this? And she says, well, I just want you to know that today the state has dismissed all the charges against you. Ms.
Anthony Graves [00:59:50]:
Kelly Siegler dismissed the charges not because witnesses have died, not because they've lost evidence. Ms. Kelly Siegler dismissed the charges against you because she believes in your innocence. And tomorrow she's holding a press conference to let the whole world know that you're an innocent man. And I'm listening, but I'm not processing this. This is going over my head because I come in here with my shield and my spoil. You want to kill me or you want to free me? I'm not compromising the truth. And when she says that to me, I paused, what did you just say? And she says, over.
Anthony Graves [01:00:36]:
You're free. You can leave. And I said, what am I going to do now? I don't know my size. I don't know what clothes to wear. I've been in a jumpsuit for 18 years. And now, just like that, they say, it's over. I'm 45 years old. This happened to me when I was 26, and today I'm 45.
Anthony Graves [01:01:05]:
And they say, it's over. And I said, well, what do I do? She said, well, how about you put these clothes on that I brought, and let's get out of here. By this time, the officer comes in the room, he knew already. He said, Mr. Gray, you want to go get your property out to sale? I say, yeah, but I didn't want to get no property. I was discombobulated. I was too afraid to believe this because I had been in jail, in prison, on death row, 6640 days of my life, the last 6640 days. And every day I will wake up in a sale.
Anthony Graves [01:01:44]:
And here it is again. I'm having this dream of going home, but this time it's real or supposed to be, but I don't know how to take it because if it's not real, then how am I going to bounce back from this one? So when he start, we start walking down the hallway, me. And also, it just dawned on me, man, it's over. It's over. And by the time we get to the sale, he said, what do you want? I said, man, just give me my legal work and my pictures. I want nothing else. I just want to go. Because in my mind, look, let's get out of here before they change their mind.
Anthony Graves [01:02:21]:
So just like that, man, 18 and a half years of being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. October 27, 2010. I walk out the side of the jail with everything I own in a little box. At the age of 45 years old, they had just dismissed all charges against me. The judge didn't want to let me go because the judge was the daughter of the judge that sentenced me to death. She was trying to push for another trial. The prosecutor had to tell the judge, if you don't sign this dismissal order, we're going to let the media know that you're refusing to let an innocent man go home. The judge said, fine.
Anthony Graves [01:03:14]:
So she went on sign the order. They want to bring me up to the courthouse and apologize to me in front of my family and the rest of the world. The judge said, I don't want that hoop lie in my court. You can let him go now. And that's why I walked out the courthouse, I mean, out the jail with everything I own in a little box, because the judge did not want me to have, didn't want them to apologize to me in her courtroom. This was the judge who was the daughter of the judge that sentenced me to death, who was once a partner in the same law firm with the district attorney. That's my story. That's it.
Anthony Graves [01:04:07]:
So because of all that has happened to me, I was exonerated in 2010. And I've been crisscrossing this globe sharing my story. I've developed a big platform around criminal justice reform, and now I'm launching a podcast to share these stories with the rest of the world.
Dan Riley [01:04:26]:
And I'm glad you mentioned that because I want to talk about that. I mean, you've done a lot in your life in the last eleven years since you've been out, but this is seemingly your next big project that you're going to be spending a lot of time doing. Why are you doing it? And what do you envision it will be once it's available?
Anthony Graves [01:04:42]:
Yes. Why am I doing it? Well, our criminal justice system is letting down us as individuals, as families, as american citizens, and we do not have a lot of avenues to talk about how to change this situation. So what I've done as a solution is created this media platform to share these stories so that people can understand the urgency to criminal justice reform, so that people themselves can hear personal testimonies of people who have been impacted by our criminal system. I don't know what this is going to lead to at the end of the day, but I do know that we're all connected to personal stories. I do know from my own speaking engagements, people have responded to these stories in a way that is making change in our criminal justice system. I want to amplify that by creating this media platform and getting these stories told. Not just stories of people who've wrongfully convicted, but stories of the lawyers who had to go home and sleep after that person was wrongfully convicted. Talk about the judges who had to sit up there and be the referee.
Anthony Graves [01:06:18]:
What was his story? Talk to the law enforcement officer who believed that person was innocent but had to go along with everything because he was a law enforcement officer. I know these people, and I want their stories aired so that you can hear them, so that you can understand what is going on in our criminal justice system, that our criminal justice system is really the biggest criminal that we have, and we need to fix it. And this media platform is here to provide those stories to encourage and empower you to fix what is broken in our criminal justice system. So that's why I have created this podcast. It is called infinite Hope, after my book, and you can get it on patreon.com infinitehope. One two seven. The one two seven. That was my name for 18 and a half years.
Anthony Graves [01:07:11]:
That's what the state called me, 999127. I put it on there because every day I want to remember what they did to me every day so that I never forget how powerful these stories are and why they need to be told. That's why I'm starting infinite Hope podcast.
Dan Riley [01:07:34]:
I think by the time this airs, it will either be already out or close to it. And obviously we will provide information related to that podcast as well, related to the launch of this specific episode. We were talking before we were recording about just some basic theories that we have about how this can happen in, quote, unquote, the land of the free, how stories like yours, which are happening by the dozens or hundreds or thousands in this country are even possible in a country that so says or states that it values liberty as one of its highest priorities, one of its highest values. I would love to get your thoughts, and I know you will explore this in the podcast. I'm sure in detail what it is that you think makes America a place where people like you have had to endure what you have endured. Right? I'm sure you have your ideas about what criminal for criminal justice reform, what could be done or should be done to increase justice. There are criminals who do heinous acts. Of course there was a criminal who was involved in what you were accused in, right? So it's a balance between making sure we protect people from criminals, while at the same time making sure we're giving the benefit of the doubt to people who are accused.
Dan Riley [01:09:03]:
I say that just to give you a platform or an opportunity to give some of your at least initial ideas on what you think we could change or should change in the country or the legal system generally.
Anthony Graves [01:09:13]:
First of all, the first thing I think we as the people should change is our mindset about our criminal justice system. Our criminal justice system is broke. Point blank, simple. Our criminal justice system is broke. If you do not believe me, just look at the statistics, look at the evidence. 170 innocent men have walked off a death row in this country that you were once set to kill. So our criminal justice system is broken. That is the first thing we have to come to grips with.
Anthony Graves [01:09:53]:
What do we do about it? Number one, we start having dialogue. We start hearing these stories. We stop being so pessimistic about someone's truth, and we start engaging in these stories and figuring out how we can stop these stories from happening all the time. And we have to be honest with the fact that our system is corrupted with racist practices. If we can be honest about that. I'm not saying being honest make you racist. Being honest put us in a position to address the issue. We have a big race problem in our criminal justice system.
Anthony Graves [01:10:46]:
I watch a racist prosecutor try to murder me, and we turn around and gave him prosecutor of the year. We got a problem. We got a big problem. And I would say, and I'm going to say, myself included, the biggest problem is we the people, because we hire these employees to run our companies, to make us the best state in our nation. And then we just let them tell us what to do. We let them tell us how they're going to do things, and we just say, okay, no accountability people. Our politicians work for us. We are the people.
Anthony Graves [01:11:34]:
We are the power. We are their bosses. And if we don't like what they're doing, instead of getting upset and just not participating, we go to the voting block, voting polls, and we fire the asses, and we hire those that have our interest. That is on us. It's not on them. They are who they are. It is on us. And if we continue to allow them to dictate to their bosses what they're going to do, then we're going to find ourselves talking about these stories over and over and over and over again.
Anthony Graves [01:12:16]:
So, with all that being said, what I am telling you is the change lays at your feet and mine. So join me, and let's make this change together, because we deserve it. This is our constitution. This is our criminal justice system. We are the people. We are the people. Wake up. Wake up and be the bosses that we are supposed to be to these employees, because they are ruining our lives, because we're not doing our jobs.
Anthony Graves [01:12:51]:
We're not holding them accountable. January the 6th was because we did not hold them accountable. Come on, people. Come on, people. Wake up.
Dan Riley [01:13:07]:
This was something I think I mentioned to you, too, that I talked to Mike Ware, who I think I talked to you offline, is the one who pointed me in your direction. Mike Ware is the director of the Innocence Project of Texas, and he's a lawyer and has been a lawyer his entire career and was articulating to me. We were also, I think, saying this offline, that human beings are storytellers by nature. And once people get a story about someone, you said this earlier, that once you showed up in a courtroom, a lot of the jurors who ended up convicting you had already had this narrative in their head that you wouldn't be here if you hadn't done anything wrong. Right?
Anthony Graves [01:13:47]:
Dan Riley [01:13:48]:
And a lot of these, I think this is, in some ways, a uniquely american phenomenon, where there is a self righteousness about those who are accused, where we get whipped up in a frenzy and believing, not that they're innocent until proven guilty, but the inverse, that they're guilty until proven innocent. It's really hard, I think, just psychologically, to change that in a culture. But one of the ways I think you potentially fight back in doing that is providing counterexamples, like yourself and like the people you will feature on your podcast who have fell victim to false accusations that have then resulted in their lives being ruined or close to being killed. That's a counternarrative to the general culture that I'm unfamiliar with. I haven't ever known about a podcast or some sort of a media platform that is consistently providing that counter story. Right. That when you do have that kind of witch hunt mentality, when you allow your desire to see people as either good or bad. Right.
Dan Riley [01:14:56]:
This is another thing that we were talking about, the kind of binary there are good guys and bad guys and not this entire gray area. I think you're a lot more likely to fall victim for false accusations.
Anthony Graves [01:15:07]:
Yes, you're absolutely correct, man. And I think the problem that I have with the way we go about our business in the criminal justice system is this. Yeah. People get it wrong, and people get it wrong a lot. Jurors get it wrong, and jurors get it wrong a lot. But how and why? Well, let's talk about our media for a minute. Right. Because that's where it starts.
Anthony Graves [01:15:37]:
That's the domino effect. That's where it starts when the media runs that person on tv at 10:00 in handcuffs saying that he is the alleged perpetrator, his face is all over the media. He's the alleged perpetrator. Now, I don't know if everybody know what alleged means, but he's the alleged perpetrator because that protects them from liability. Okay. Then they get to sensationalize the story after that. After they say that he's an alleged perpetrator, then they go into sensationalizing the story with his face. By the time he gets to the courthouse, everybody that watched the news has seen his face, and they equate him to the person that done this crime.
Anthony Graves [01:16:28]:
So this notion of being innocent until proven guilty has gone out the window as soon as they seen him on your 10:00 news. So the media has a big role to play in why people are being wrongfully convicted, because the media will get out there and run the side of the prosecutor without even talking to the defense. They'll run the side of the prosecutor as though this person that allegedly done the crime is guilty. So by the time he gets the trial, he got to prove that he's innocent because the media, along with the district attorney, has set it up so that the world knows he's a guilty man. Now, that's a problem.
Dan Riley [01:17:06]:
Yeah, the imagery of that imagery is a big problem. It doesn't in any way map onto the.
Anthony Graves [01:17:12]:
And that falls in the lapse of media. They have a responsibility, and they also are letting us down because they're sensationalizing these stories for ratings, and innocent people are losing their freedoms and their lives behind them, trying to get, people trying to get viewership so it don't just start in the courthouse.
Dan Riley [01:17:34]:
Yeah, it's a nice theory. Innocent until proven guilty, but in reality, in practice, when you frame someone in that way. Right. And any murder story is going to get a lot of media, of course. I think it's an excellent point. We have talked about a lot of intense stuff in this conversation, and I think for people who are listening to this, this is for myself, too. Right. To some degree, this is obviously going to be a huge part of your life, probably for the rest of your life, working on these issues.
Dan Riley [01:18:05]:
But at the age of 45, you got your life back. What do you do for fun? How do you find enjoyment in your life? What's the last ten years been like for you? I mean, the truth is, right, you're a jolly guy. I can tell just by hanging out with you. You're a funny guy. And it's amazing to me that you've been able to maintain such a high spiritedness given what you've gone through. Tell us what the last ten years have been like.
Anthony Graves [01:18:36]:
Well, the last ten years, I have been really out here advocating for criminal justice reform. And why you see this jolly look on my face is because I enjoy what I do. This is not a job for me. I'm very passionate about helping people who have been messed over by our criminal system. I've spent the last ten years crisscrossing this country and abroad, sharing my story in law firms, different organizations, churches, in different institutions, you name it. Anybody that wants Anthony Graves to come and share his story, that's where I've been. Right? As for fun, wow. Well, I got married.
Anthony Graves [01:19:21]:
If that's fun, that's a different podcast. But other than that, man, I think that this story that happened in my life just put me on a whole nother path. I really don't know what fun is, because every day I'm trying to help somebody, because every day I get letters. If you look right behind you, those are letters in that little box. You know what those are? Letters from people in prison telling me that they're innocent and wanting me to help them. Right? That's what I get every day. So, having fun? Maybe if I watch a sports game, because I'm a big Cowboys fan, I'm a big Astros fan, I'm a big rockets fan. So maybe watching that, I get a little enjoyment, but after that game go off, I'm back to trying to help somebody.
Dan Riley [01:20:15]:
Yeah, and maybe that's a good distinction between fun and meaning, right? I bet you get a lot of meaning, even though it's probably extremely difficult and hard work to do this all the time. That it matters to you, clearly.
Anthony Graves [01:20:26]:
Yes, it definitely matters. When I was exonerated, they compensated me, right? They compensated me and apologized to me. And at that moment, I had a chance to just go off with my life, buy me a little house, live on the beach and sip drinks through a straw. But after going through what I went through for 18 and a half years, I just could not see myself walking away from this. There had to be a reason why I had to go through this, and I needed to figure that out so that I could understand my life, because other than that, I won't understand my life. And if I can't understand my life and make some sense of this, it's going to have a big impact on me in a negative way. So I need to figure this thing out. And so as I been speaking and helping other people, it just came natural to me that this is just what I'm born to do.
Anthony Graves [01:21:26]:
I mean, when I told you earlier that I discovered at an early age that I had leadership abilities, this is just what I was born to do. And in order for me to do it, I had to go through what I went through. So that's why, in hindsight, I have no regrets for what I went through. I have no hate in my heart because I get out and share this story and I change lives. I am the richest man in the world because of that, and I don't have a penny in the bank because true riches is impacting the lives of other people in a positive way. And watching them take off, I see it all the time, man. And so that's fun for me.
Dan Riley [01:22:06]:
Anthony Graves [01:22:09]:
That'S who I am.
Dan Riley [01:22:10]:
As we begin to wind down the conversation, I want to talk to you about how people who listen to this can help. Right? You've been involved in this work for now almost ten years or maybe ten years for an average citizen who sympathizes with your story, who wants to get involved, who wants to try to help to reform things, what do you say to them? How can people, normal people, right, who just have love in their heart for people like you? What can they do? What would you recommend that people, how should they act? What should they get involved with to try to help in an impactful way, in your judgment?
Anthony Graves [01:22:50]:
Oh, you know, that question has been posed to me so many times, and I have gone around and around trying to think, how can I get people involved that want to get involved? There's so many different things that you can do in this arena. How can I get them involved and make them very effective? And I came to the conclusion that the best way to get involved is support this podcast, donate to this podcast and allow me to use the funds that we raise to help other people. It'd be structured, I have the resources to make it happen. I just need the funding. And I would say, if you really want to get involved, you really want to help. If you really want to stop this type of injustice, support this podcast. Because that's why I created it, to bring these stories to the table, to ask you to help support this podcast so I can do the great work that I've been doing, which is helping people who are innocent. That's how you can help.
Dan Riley [01:23:46]:
I just want to say, before we cut this off, this has been a huge honor for me to meet you and to have this conversation. And even though you have been up to this for ten years, I really think that this is just the beginning for you. And I think the podcast platform is going to be probably the most impactful thing you may ever do related to this. And I think I speak for a lot of people who are listening to this just in knowing that you have a lot of people on your side who I think are similar to you in your goals and what you're trying to accomplish with your life and with your talents. So thank you for doing this. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you all the best with everything you do related to this. It's amazing to me what you just said, that you have no regrets because you are where you are now, right? And that you hopefully will continue to be a tool for change and betterment of our society for years and years to come. So thanks for doing this, man.
Dan Riley [01:24:57]:
It was really great to meet you and I hope we stand in touch over the years.
Anthony Graves [01:25:01]:
Yeah, likewise. I feel like I met a friend today, man. Thanks, man. Thanks for allowing me to share my story on your podcast and allow me to promote my podcast.
Dan Riley [01:25:13]:
It's my pleasure.