Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Cornealious "Mike" Anderson walks out of the Mississippi County Courthouse along with his wife, LaQonna Anderson, daughter Nevaeh, 3, and attorney Patrick Megaro, far left, after being released from custody, Monday, May 5, 2014, in Charleston, Mo. A judge ordered the release of Anderson, who was convicted of robbery in 2000 but never sent to prison until a clerical mistake was discovered last year when he was put behind bars. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Man who avoided 13-year prison term due to error walks free
First Published May 05 2014 07:14 pm • Last Updated May 05 2014 07:14 pm

Charleston, Mo. • 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.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

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.


story continues below
story continues below

"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.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.