Cornealious Anderson was convicted of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action in 2000. He was charged following the robbery of an assistant manager of a fast-food restaurant at gunpoint, according to The Washington Post. Anderson received a sentence of 13 years in prison.
Anderson never made it to prison due to a mistake that allowed him to spend the next 13 years free. It took the state of Missouri 13 years to realize Anderson was free and then take him to prison. He spent almost one year in prison and has since been released.
Anderson lived two blocks from the prior address the court system had on record. He also had his contracting business licensed with the state and was a churchgoer. He was also a football coach. Anderson is a husband and a father.
In July, Anderson was removed from his home and taken to prison, telling his wife LaQonna, “Baby, I’m sorry. This is something from thirteen years ago. I thought that this was over.”
Following a series of rejected appeals, the prosecutor on the case told the judge that Anderson was in custody even though he was not. The attorney for Anderson did not speak up because he had not spoken to Anderson in a couple of days. He assumed Anderson as in custody.
Anderson’s attorney then called him and Anderson said, “He was shocked. He said, you aren’t in jail? I said, no, I’m not. And so I was like, well, what are we supposed to do? Am I supposed to turn myself in? And it was just like, well, at this time, it’s a mistake. They’ll figure out their mistake. You know, he said, it’s temporary. Expect to be picked up. They’re going to pick you up.”
The only reason the Missouri Department of Corrections realized that Anderson was not in jail was when it was preparing to release him.
After Anderson’s story reached the public, a petition of more than 35,000 signatures called for his release after he was eventually taken into custody. A Mississippi County judge, Terry Lynn Brown, said that Anderson would be given credit for time served and be released.
“You’ve been a good father,” Brown said in a report from The Associated Press. “You’ve been a good husband. You’ve been a good taxpaying citizen of the state of Missouri. That leads me to believe that you are a good man and a changed man.”