The state of Missouri let a man convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to prison roam free…For thirteen years.
In 1999, Cornealious “Mike” Anderson, of St. Louis was convicted for the armed robbery of a Burger King manager who was making the night drop and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
He paid his bond and went back to his life while going through the appeals process.
When a judge rejected his final appeal, he waited for word on when to surrender himself to the penal system, but word never came.
And he kept waiting…For a long time…He also kept busy.
Anderson met a girl, fell in love, took up the trade of carpentry, had four children, started his own contracting business, joined a church, started coaching youth sports.
Years passed. Over a decade. And only last summer when his sentence “ended” did officials notice he was never actually incarcerated and sent U.S. Marshals to his family’s quiet house in the suburbs to finally lock him away.
Anderson was arrested and is currently waiting behind bars for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to respond to a petition for his release…“I never felt like a fugitive, because a fugitive’s someone that’s running from the law,’’ he said. “I never ran from the law. I was there.”
“This man is not a fugitive,” Anderon’s attorney Patrick Michael Megaro said. “He didn’t try to hide.”
“Even the victim himself went on record and said, ‘I don’t think this guy should be in jail,’” Megaro added.
Nearly 14,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking for Anderson’s release…
[Almost up to 20,000 signatures at post time]
“He built a business, he built a house,” said Megaro. “He never changed his name. He owned a corporation. He did everything by the book. He pays his taxes. He coaches football. He goes to church. For 13 years, what more do you want a man to do?”
The current prosecutor unsurprisingly wants him sent to jail. What that would achieve other than satisfy breast-beating Old Testament fundamentalists – or help with vote-getting among that same crowd next election – is beyond reason.