For more than a decade, a Missouri man convicted for armed robbery in 1999 was waiting for the day he would begin serving his sentence.
But it wasn’t until Cornealious “Mike” Anderson was supposed to be released that the state realized that he was never behind prison bars.
Had Anderson served his time, he would have been released last summer, according to WLTX. Since 2002, Anderson has started a business, built a home and started a family.
The state now says the mistake was due to a clerical error.
When Anderson was supposed to start his 13-year sentence back in 2002, after he lost his appeals, he was simply forgotten about, according to the Daily Mail.
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition started on Change.org, calling for Anderson’s release.
According to the petition, Anderson never tried to run and was living an honest life. The day the state realized the mistake, they allegedly “raided his house with a SWAT team, and ripped him from his home without warning, hauled him off to prison, and told him he now had to serve 13 years.”
Anderson’s attorneys are petitioning to have him released, arguing he is a rehabilitated man and making him serve his time now would be “cruel and unusual punishment.” His attorneys claim that the man robbed by Anderson back in 1999 said that Anderson doesn’t deserve imprisonment.
“I don’t have any clue what happens now,” Michael Wolff, dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law and former chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, told the Riverfront Times.
“I can see that a person wouldn’t want to call up and say, ‘Remember me? I owe you thirteen years.’ And then the real question is, should we take into account the fact that he apparently has been a good citizen?”
Tim Lohmar, the current prosecutor for St. Charles County, where Anderson committed the robbery, told CBS that although someone clearly made a mistake, thatdoesn’t excuse Anderson from serving his time.
“It’s very difficult for me to say we can create an exception and we can allow somebody who has found a way, whether it was by his own doing or otherwise, to not have to serve a sentence,” Lohmar said.
The state attorney general has until next week to respond. Until then, Anderson said all he can do is believe everything will work out in his favor. Otherwise, he could be behind bars until 2026.