Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Man supposed to be free spends Xmas behind bars

Seattle Washington – James S. Anderson is about to spend his fifth straight Christmas behind bars but he's not a convict.
A state appeals court erased the 31-year-old's conviction for armed robbery this month, saying new evidence uncovered by a law school student corroborates what Anderson has always said: He was another state when a group of men hit a Tacoma grocery store in 2004.
Prosecutors joined Anderson's lawyers in asking for his immediate release, but severe winter storms closed the court and helped delay the necessary paperwork.
It's unclear how soon Anderson could get out of the Walla Walla state penitentiary in eastern Washington; his family in Los Angeles is eager to see him whenever he arrives.
"All the family's talking about James coming home, James coming home!" said his mother, Yuralene Spencer of Los Angeles. "Everyone is so happy, full of joy, like God gave us the best present we ever had."
Anderson actually had to fight two robbery accusations. Records from California showed he met with his probation officer in Los Angeles on April 12 _ the same day he was initially accused of robbing a payday-loan store in Washington's Pierce County. Prosecutors in Washington dropped that charge.
But they soon accused him of a different robbery _ one at a Safeway store in Tacoma four days earlier, on April 8. Two other robbery suspects fingered him. Both received significant time off their own sentences for cooperating.
Anderson again insisted he was innocent, and offered the same alibi: He could not have committed the crime because he was in California. Probation records would again prove it, he said.

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