Cornealious “Mike” Anderson, who was sentenced to 13 years prison in 2000 by the state of Missouri for armed robbery, but never served time in jail because of a clerical error, changed his life to become a model citizen, but then was forced into jail in 2013 to serve his original sentence. Now he is fighting to get out of jail and return to the model life he constructed in the time after his original sentence.
After the original sentence was pronounced, Anderson kept unsuccessfully appealing the original sentence for four years, at which point his bail should have been canceled, but it was not. He should have been jailed at that point, but he never was. Instead, Anderson started a business, Anderson Construction and Investment, married his wife, coached his son’s football team and volunteered at his church. He did all of this without hiding his identity. In addition, he filed a post-conviction appeal wherein he wrote, “Movant is not presently incarcerated.'”
Laron Harris was convicted and sentenced to 10 years along with Anderson for robbing a Burger King store manager, putting the day’s profits in a night-deposit box by using a BB gun. In the court filings, Anderson’s address was listed as Webster Groves, Harris was listed under the Missouri Department of Corrections. That error allowed Anderson to go unnoticed until 2013, when the Missouri Department of Corrections went to release him from prison and he wasn’t there.
Anderson, 36, has four children, who were at home when he was arrested in 2013. The state wants him to be in jail until he is 50 and his children are grown.
Tim Lohmar, the current prosecutor for St. Charles County, told CBS News, “Somebody messed up. Somebody messed up big time … The jury heard the evidence, the judge upheld the sentence … As unfair as it may seem to he and his family, he’s got 13 years he owes the state. I don’t think there’s much more to say than that.”
But Anderson’s father, Cornealious Michael Anderson II, told the Riverfront Times that Anderson had no prior convictions, and said, “If the point of incarceration is rehabilitation, the job’s already done.” Anderson’s attorney Patrick Michael Megaro has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting that to make Anderson serve another 13 years is cruel and unusual punishment. He wrote, “Petitioner was left alone by the State of Missouri for 13 years and led to believe that the State had given up on execution of the judgment. To require this man to now begin serving a sentence in 2013 that should have been completed in 2013 is in essence to double his sentence.”
Frank Bowman, professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, said that Anderson may have to fall back on clemency. He said, “Say, ‘Hey, governor, can you pardon him or commute his sentence in light of this error on the part of the state? This person has taken advantage of this great chance, has kept his nose clean and become a great citizen. After all, you have budgetary problems. What good is it going to do to stick this family man inside and pay for his room and board?”‘
The victim of Anderson’s robbery told the Riverfront Times that Anderson should not go to jail. He said, “[The state] were supposed to make sure he went to jail. [Anderson] screwed up and he was supposed to pay for it. Our government screwed up. Who’s paying for that? Does he have to pay for that again? Doesn’t seem right.'”
The court wants Missouri’s attorney general to make a decision by April 15.