The Missouri Department of Corrections discovered, upon preparing to release a prisoner who had served a 13-year sentence in July 2013, that the prisoner had never been incarcerated and promptly sent him to prison.
In the intervening 13 years since his 1999 arrest, Cornealious ‘Mike’ Anderson III, 36, has transformed his life, becoming a master carpenter, starting his own business and marrying and having children.
In July last year, as he and his youngest daughter slept in the St Louis home he built for his family, a SWAT team outfitted in tactical gear and helmets swarmed the house, arresting the terrified father of four and delivering him to the Missouri Department of Corrections, where he’s been ever since.
13 years late: Mike Anderson is currently nine months into a 13-year prison sentence for a crime committed in 1999
Now, Anderson is fighting to be released from prison, where he’s nine months into the original 13-year sentence.
The Riverfront Times reports that it appears some kind of clerical error is responsible for Anderson’s predicament.
In 1999, Anderson and another man robbed a Burger King store manager of the day’s takings as he attempted to deposit the cash in a night-deposit box.
The pair used a BB gun and Anderson was arrested two months later after witnesses gave police his car license plate number.
Between 2000 and 2004, Anderson filed a series of appeals which were ultimately unsuccessful. At that point, his bail should have been revoked and he should have been taken into custody – but he never was.
Family man: Anderson with his wife LaQonna and their four children. In the years since his arrest he has built a business and a loving family life
As the weeks and months passed by, Anderson never attempted to hide: he registered a business, Anderson Construction and Investment, to his home address and married his wife, LaQonna Anderson. He coached his son’s football team and volunteered at his local church.
He even filed a post-conviction appeal that clearly stated ‘Movant is not presently incarcerated.’ His co-accused, Laron Harris, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years. In filings, Anderson’s address is clearly stated as Webster Groves, whereas the listing for Harris is the Missouri Department of Corrections.
No one commented on this discrepancy and Anderson remained free for seven years after his final appeal failed in 2005.
Tim Lohmar, the current prosecutor for St. Charles County, where the armed robbery occurred, is baffled at the error.
‘Somebody messed up. Somebody messed up big time,’ he told CBS News.
As to whether Anderson deserves to be free, he said, ‘The jury heard the evidence, the judge upheld the sentence,’ he says. ‘As unfair as it may seem to he and his family, he’s got 13 years he owes the state. I don’t think there’s much more to say than that.’
Read more: DailyMail