CHARLESTON, MO (KMOV/CNN) — An error in the prison system allowed a Missouri robbery convict to walk free 13 years ago.
37-year-old Cornealious “Mike” Anderson III used that time to build a life as a model citizen and devoted father.
But when the state realized its mistake last summer, Anderson was thrown in prison.
Monday, he appeared before a judge to appeal for his freedom.
When Anderson came to court argue for his freedom., he didn’t know if he would have to finish his 13-year sentence or get to go home.
“No, I had no idea. I was just believing by faith, was praying he’d make the right decision,” Anderson said.
“I don’t have words, I really don’t have words for what today means. I mean to have my son walk out and come home means the world to me,” his father, Cornealious “Mike” Anderson II, said.
It was 1999 when Anderson and a cousin robbed a Burger King employee in St. Charles. He was sentenced to 13 years but released while he appealed, and because of a clerical error, was never told where and when to report to prison. For the next 13 years he married, became the father of four, started a business, coached youth football and volunteered at church. When the state discovered its error it locked him up last July.
“It was extremely difficult for my family, just thinking about my family,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he always had faith he would be released. In court the judge said keeping Anderson locked up would be a waste of tax dollars and punishing a good man. The judge applied to 13 years he was free as time served and told him to go home to his family.
“I believe this case teaches us justice can be swift, just as can be harsh but Justice can also be merciful,” Anderson’s attorney Patrick Megaro said.
“Thank you everybody for your support, everybody who signed the petition, thank their support,” Anderson said.