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Man Sentenced to Prison, Freed Before He Could Serve Time

(From WPEC) - CHARLESTON, Mo. (CBS/AP) - A Missouri man who was sent to prison 13 years after his robbery conviction due to a clerical error was set free by a judge Monday, reports CBS affiliate KFVS.

Cornealious "Mike" Anderson, of St. Louis County, was convicted of robbery in 2000 and sentenced to 13 years but was never told when and where to report to prison. He spent the next 13 years turning his life around - getting married, raising three kids, learning a trade. He made no effort to conceal his identity or whereabouts. Anderson paid taxes and traffic tickets, renewed his driver's license and registered his businesses.

Not until last July did the Missouri Department of Corrections discover the clerical error that kept him free and authorities went to his home and arrested him.

"They sent a SWAT team to his house," Anderson's attorney, Patrick Megaro, told the Associated Press in April. "He was getting his 3-year-old daughter breakfast, and these men with automatic weapons bang on his door."

He has been imprisoned in the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo. ever since. But on Monday, the 37-year-old Anderson appeared in court to fight for his freedom and Mississippi County Associate Circuit Judge Terry Lynn Brown ruled that keeping Anderson in prison would serve no purpose, reports KFVS.

Judge Brown said that rather than Anderson being granted parole, he would get credit for the 4,794 days between when he was convicted and when he was arrested last year. The judge also lauded Anderson's "exemplary" behavior during his 13 years of freedom.

"You've been a good father. 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 and a changed man," he said.

"You're a free man," Brown continued, telling Anderson to go back to his family.

"The real tragedy here is that one aspect of prison is the idea of rehabilitation," Joy said. "Here we have somebody who has led a perfect life for 13 years. He did everything right. So he doesn't need rehabilitation."



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