ST. LOUIS (AP) After he was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, Cornealious Anderson was sentenced to 13 years behind bars and told to await instructions on when and where to report to prison. But those instructions never came.
So Anderson didnt report. He spent the next 13 years turning his life around :clap: getting married, raising four kids, learning a trade. He made no effort to conceal his identity or whereabouts. Anderson paid taxes and traffic tickets, renewed his drivers license and registered his businesses.
Not until last year did the Missouri Department of Corrections discover the clerical error that kept him free. Now hes fighting for release, saying authorities missed their chance to incarcerate him.
In a single day last July, Andersons life was turned upside-down.
Anderson had just one arrest for marijuana possession on his record when he and a cousin robbed an assistant manager for a St. Charles Burger King restaurant on Aug. 15, 1999. The men, wearing masks, showed a gun (it turned out to be a BB gun) and demanded money that was about to be placed in a deposit box.
The worker gave up the bag of cash, and the masked men drove away. The worker turned in the cars license plate number.
Anderson was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison and waited for word on what to do next.
His attorney said, Listen, theyre going to get you some day, so just wait for the order, Megaro said. As time goes by, the order never comes. What does a normal person believe? Maybe they forgot about it. Its only human nature to hope they just let it go. He really didnt know what to do.
Megaro described Anderson as a model citizen a married father who became a carpenter and started three businesses. He paid income and property taxes and kept a drivers license showing his true name and address. When he was pulled over for a couple of traffic violations, nothing showed up indicating he should be in prison.
Thats why Anderson was shocked when the marshals arrived.
He now lives among the general population at Charleston. Megaro said Anderson is holding his own barely.
However, Koster wrote that Megaro could refile the case as an action against the director of the Department of Corrections, which could give Anderson credit for the time he was technically at large.
Megaro doubted that strategy would work. He said the law does not allow credit for time served when the convicted person was not behind bars.
Gov. Jay Nixon could also commute the sentence. A spokesman for Nixon declined to comment.
More than 33,000 people have signed a petition started on Change.org, calling for Andersons release.