The good news is that Anthony Graves was released from prison back in October after serving eighteen years on death row for a murder that prosecutors now say he had nothing to do with. Charges dropped, man freed, name cleared. Good things! The bad news is that Graves is now rightly seeking some financial compensation for the nearly two decades he spent in the Texas hoosegow, but the state comptroller's office is telling him and his lawyers no, because of a technicality.

From the Houston Chronicle:

After capital murder charges against Anthony Graves were dropped and prosecutors declared him innocent, his attorneys realized that state law required two crucial words to make him eligible for compensation for his 18 years of wrongful imprisonment: "actual innocence."

The October order dropping the charges lacked those words. Graves' attorneys discovered that only Burleson County District Attorney Bill Parham could ask the judge to insert them. The law gave him 15 days to do it.

But Parham, who had vociferously proclaimed Graves' innocence, refused to return phone calls from Graves attorney Jimmy Phillips Jr. "Once they put the two magic words in there, that would have solved the problem," Phillips said.

The 15 days lapsed. Without the words "actual innocence," the Texas comptroller's office last week refused to qualify Graves for $80,000 compensation for each year of wrongful imprisonment.

A conspiracy-minded person might theorize that the district attorney wanted to get this guy out of the clink, but, in order to get permission to do so from on high, had to promise that he'd make sure the state wouldn't have to cough up any money after the fact. That's what a nut would think, anyway.

[via Think Progress; photo via AP]