Thirteen years ago, Cornealious "Mike" Anderson robbed a Burger King manager who was out depositing checks in Missouri. He was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 13 years. He posted bond and went home. A clerical error made by the Missouri Department of Corrections spared him from serving jail time...until now (via Washington Post):
For years, he believed the courts had revoked his sentence. For years, the state believed he was in prison serving his time.
Now, Cornealious "Mike" Anderson is behind bars after the department of corrections noticed what it calls a "clerical error" last summer. Then it went and got him.
Anderson told reporters he never considered turning himself in; he just decided to turn his life around.
"It was 13 years of somewhat relief, but was it always in the back of my mind? Of course it was in the back of my mind," he told "This American Life":
"You get pulled over for a traffic ticket, you run a red light, run a stop sign, you didn't come to a complete stop, and they're running your information and your hearts beating fast like, 'Man, are they going to know?' And they come back and say, 'Hey, Mr. Anderson, get your taillight fixed. Get your tags renewed.' And that was it."
His attorney, Patrick Megaro, is now arguing the 13-year sentence comes 13 years too late and is a violation of his legal rights, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Megaro filed court papers asking for Anderson's release. He argued forcing the man to serve the term after he was rehabilitated was wrong, saying it's "cruel and unusual to allow him to believe that the state had given him a reprieve to one day, out of the blue, knock down his door and take his entire life away."
Last summer, the authorities found Anderson and sent him to prison serve his sentence. Yet, Anderson seemingly turned his life around since the robbery. He got married, became a successful carpenter, and started a family.
Even the person Anderson robbed, a man named Dennis, thinks this is whole situation is unjust. "You gotta give the guy a little bit of slack," he said. "The law dropped the ball. The law ought to drop it completely. They need to leave the man alone."