A Missouri judge has ordered the state to set free a man who was convicted of robbery in 2000, but not sent to prison until last year when an error was discovered.  Cornealious Anderson was 23 when he was sentenced to 13 years in prison after being convicted of a fast-food assistant manager’s robbery.  He told the media that he waited and waited and even asked about his prison time, but they never came.

In the years since, Anderson started his own construction industry business, married, and had children.  He coaches youth football and volunteers at his local church.  He turned his life around.  Judge Terry Lynn Brown took notice and applauded his “exemplary” behavior,

“You’ve been a good father…husband…taxpaying citizen…That leads me to believe that you are a good man and a changed man.”

After the 10 minute hearing, Anderson walked out with his wife, 3-year-old daughter, and mother, “My faith has always been in God.  I’m just so thankful…”

Missouri assistant Attorney General Michael Spillane wanted Anderson to serve his time, even if just in the form of parole, telling the court that the seriousness of the robbery should be considered, but admitted that “Anderson’s behavior over the 13 years of his freedom and the impact of imprisonment…on his family” should also be considered.  The judge said rather than issuing Anderson parole, he should be credited 4,794 days between his conviction and arrest last year.  A petition containing 35,000 signatures urged the state to support his release.  Attorney General Chris Koster said he wanted to find a solution to a “difficult situation”.

Anderson had never been convicted of a serious crime when he was sentenced to 13 years and told to wait until he was ordered to report to prison.  “Day by day, month by month, year by year, time passed…” he told the media.  Anderson suspected he was overlooked and asked his former defense attorney what they should do.  Anderson went about his life.  He never concealed his identity or whereabouts.  He married, divorced, and married again.  He raised three children and a stepchild.  He owned three businesses.  He coached youth football and ran a video operation for his local church.

In July, his sentence ended and that’s when someone at the Missouri Department of Corrections realized he had never been imprisoned.  Eight U.S. Marshals then arrested him.  He was imprisoned for about 9 months before his release.

Anderson’s attorneys filed an appeal a few months ago calling his imprisonment unfair and unjust.

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