Man Free After State’s 13-Year Error

     CHARLESTON, Mo. (CN) – A man whose report-to-prison date was delayed by 13 years due to a clerical error walked out of court a free man Monday.
     A Mississippi County judge ordered that Cornealious “Mike” Anderson be given credit for the 4,794 days he was not in custody after his 2000 conviction for armed robbery.
     After he was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison, Anderson remained free on bond pending appeal. When his appeal was denied, he was never ordered to prison.
     Anderson’s case gained national headlines after authorities arrested him at his suburban St. Louis home last July after discovering the error.
     Since his conviction, Anderson had stayed out of trouble, married, had four kids and started his own construction business.
     Anderson’s clean record since 2000 weighed in the decision.
     “I believe that continuing to incarcerate you serves no purpose,” Judge Terry Lynn Brown said as he handed down his ruling. “It would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. You obviously are a rehabilitated man.”
     Anderson never hid from authorities. His attorney, Patrick Megaro, said he filed tax returns, business licenses and construction permits that would have made him easy to find. Anderson was even pulled over for a couple of traffic offenses, but police never told him he was a wanted man.
     “You’ve been a good father,” Judge Brown told him, according to wire service reports. “You’ve been a good husband. You’ve been a good taxpaying citizen of the state of Missouri.”
     Megaro, of Orlando, Fla., argued that making Anderson, now 37, serve his sentence 13 years after the fact would be cruel and unusual punishment .
     The attorney general’s office, represented by Michael J. Spillane, did not argue in court against Megaro’s motion during the 15-minute hearing.
     Attorney General Chris Koster issued a statement that said his office sought a solution that balanced the seriousness of Anderson’s crime with the mistake made by the criminal justice system and Anderson’s clean record the past 13 years.
     “Today’s outcome appears to appropriately balance the facts as we understand them,” the statement said.

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