Missouri Justice System Locks up Model Citizen 13 Years after Clerical Error Freed Him Following Crime

Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Mike Anderson (photo: LaQonna Anderson)

Cornealious “Mike” Anderson was 22 years old when he helped rob a Burger King franchise in St. Charles, Missouri. He got caught by police, was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. But Anderson never served his time, due to a clerical blunder that resulted in him being let go in 2000.


Anderson took advantage of his unexpected freedom and turned his life around. He got a job, married and started a family, became part of a church and began coaching football. By all accounts he was a model citizen.


But then the justice system caught up with him.


In July 2013, the year his sentence would have expired had he gone to prison and served his full time, U.S. marshals showed up outside Anderson’s home in Webster Groves to arrest him.


Having finally realized the convicted wasn’t where he belonged, the authorities decided it was time to put Anderson, now 36, behind bars.


He was delivered to the Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center outside St. Louis for processing before being shipped to a correctional facility.


St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar described Anderson’s ordeal as “insane,” telling the Riverfront Times he’s never heard a story like his.


Legal experts were dumbfounded when they heard about the story.


“I don’t have any clue what happens now,” Michael Wolff, dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law and former chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, told the newspaper. “I can see that a person wouldn’t want to call up and say, ‘Remember me? I owe you thirteen years.’ And then the real question is: Should we take into account the fact that he apparently has been a good citizen?”


Anderson’s father acknowledged that his son had some problems in his youth, but that he turned his life around long ago and doesn’t deserve to be in prison. “If the point of incarceration is rehabilitation, the job’s already done,” he told the Times.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

An Oversight Allowed a Convicted Man to Walk Free for Thirteen Years. Now the Justice System Wants to Restart the Clock (by Jessica Lussenhop, Riverfront Times)

Except for That One Thing (This American Life, WBEZ Chicago Public Media)

Release Cornealious Michael Anderson III From Prison (by Patrick Michael Megaro, Change.org)


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