A Missouri man who was never taken into prison after being convicted in 2000 of armed robbery because of a ‘clerical error’ by the state was ordered sent home by a judge yesterday ending a long legal wrangle that began last summer when the mistake was discovered and he was belatedly put behind bars 13 years late.
Circuit Judge Terry Lynn Brown ruled that Cornealious ‘Mike’ Anderson, 37, should be set free without delay and allowed to return to his family in a suburb of St Louis where he had transformed himself into a business owner, husband, father and local school soccer coach before he was abruptly arrested last year.
The saga began in 2000 when, after being sentenced to 13 years behind bars for the stick-up of a Burger King manager, Anderson was told to await instructions on when to report to prison. They never came, however, and it was only when his sentence was coming to an end that anyone noticed he had never actually been summoned.
His plight drew national attention and in recent weeks more than 35,000 people signed an online petition calling for his release. His defence lawyers argued that his treatment had been cruel and unfair.
“You cannot expect much more of a man than to get married, father children, take care of those children, be an extremely involved parent, become a small business owner, become a responsible taxpayer,” Patrick Megaro said on behalf of his client ahead of the ruling by Judge Brown. Prosecutors had insisted, however, that it would be wrong simply to allow a convicted felon to avoid jail time because of a bureaucratic bungle.