On August 18, 1992 in the town of Somervile, Texas in Burleson County, someone killed a number of people in a house using guns and sharp objects. Afterward, the killer poured gasoline over the house and set it ablaze. The funeral took place a few days later. Robert Carter, the father of one of the victims, showed up at the funeral with burns on his arms that were bandaged. This suggested that Carter may have been one of the people who started the fire.
The police requested to speak with Carter; Carter agreed and went to the station. There, he took a polygraph and failed. When informed of his failure, Carter admitted to the murders and implicated his wife, Theresa, and another man,Anthony Graves, as the assailants in the crime.
Carter later tried to recant the story in front of a grand jury, reasoning that law enforcement wanted a story and he gave them a story. Eventually, he went to trial, where he was sentenced to death and went to sit on death row.
Bobbie Davis owned the house and was one of the victims. She worked for the public school system together with Anthony Graves’s mother. Davis, through an affair with someone higher up, received a promotion that would have otherwise gone to Graves’s mother. This information provided a motivation for Graves to be involved in the fire.
At various points, Carter changed his story by saying that he did it himself. The physical evidence of the crime scene, however, suggested otherwise. According to investigators, there must have been at least one other person who was involved in the crime. The victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds; numerous people had stab wounds. It was just too much for one man to accomplish. There must have been someone else involved in the murder.
Carter pleaded with prosecutors not to implicate Theresa, his wife. He failed a polygraph test regarding Theresa’s involvement, though such evidence was not presented a trial. It was also a high-profile case that attracted much national attention.
At trial, Theresa’s daughter testified that her mother was home that night and did not go out at all. Although she did not implicate Graves in the case, she was adamant that her mother had no involvement.
There was also testimony about Graves owning a knife, which was one of the murder weapons. Although the police never found a murder weapon, this fact, together with all the implications against Graves and the fact that someone else must have committed the crime alongside Graves, lead to his conviction.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
For the system to work and be just, the prosecution’s job, per theTexas Penal Code, is to demonstrate that the defendant committed the act beyond a reasonable doubt. There was evidence of another person besides Carter; a motive by Graves, though such motive does not equal murder; and that Graves owned a knife. In the aggregate, the evidence does not link Graves to the crime on a level of beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, Carter sought to protect Theresa.
Graves sat in jail for 18 years for a crime he did not commit. He was released from jail in 2012.
Accused of a crime? Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel.
(image courtesy of Tao Wen)