Exonerated Prisoner Speaks At Lecture

By Nefertiti Jaquez

HOUSTON - An exonerated prisoner who spent 18 years in jail, gave a lecture at the University of St. Thomas during Black History Month.

"It's your choice. I chose to fight and I am going to continue to fight," said Anthony Graves. Graves put it in the strongest words he knew how. Telling an audience of about 300 people that even when things get tough you have to persevere.

After spending 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, he used his own life as an example of "never giving up."

"I used to always say, if MLK could get out there and do what he did then who am I to complain," said Graves.

At a Black History Month lecture, at the University of St. Thomas on Friday, he focused on his fight for freedom.

His accounts of the days leading up to his exonoration had folks glued.

In fact, one woman missed her grandson's wedding just to see Graves speak.

"He said, 'Momma what are you going to do?' I said, I have to miss the wedding and go to the reception," said Liz White.

Now free from charges that he had anything to do with the 1992 murder of a Somerville family, Graves has made it a point to give back to those who have helped him.

People, like Nicole Casarez -- who's not only a professor at the university, but also the defense attorney who helped get the wrongful charges dropped back in October. "We said in the car, 'Did you ever think we'd be at my school together, talking about your case, and your story?'" said Nicole Casarez, Graves' attorney.

Given everything, Graves could be bitter. But instead, he said, he continues to be driven by the same determination that carried him through his darkest years on death row.

"I am just a man fighting for what's right. If that's inspiring and people see me as a hero, then I will accept that," said Graves.

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