Anthony Sims, 46, has spent 24 years in prison for the killing of a Chinese immigrant in 1998, reported CNN. Sim’s attorneys claim critical evidence was withheld by the prosecutor. The eyewitness, Julius Graves, said he saw Sims shoot the man, however, Sims claims Graves was the one holding the gun.
Graves had a record before the incident, having been charged with gun possession and sentenced to five years probation in 1994, per CNN’s report. Four years later, he and Sims happened to walk inside of a takeout restaurant and per Sims account, Graves shot 27-year-old Li Run Chen who was working behind the counter.
Graves claimed Sims shot the woman but also testified he never entered the restaurant.
After the shooting, Sims and Graves ran to Sims’ car. Two friends of Graves were in the back seat, both of whom later said they saw Sims throw a gun through the window into the car. Sims denies this, saying Graves was holding the shotgun when he got into the car. After Sims drove up the block and kicked Graves and his buddies out, Graves took the shotgun with him, according to all four.
Inside Graves’ apartment, the friends say they watched Graves wipe the gun for fingerprints. One friend took and hid the gun, according to their trial testimonies.
Following the shooting, a few people provided information that put Sims in jeopardy of being a considered a suspect. Graves’ brother-in-law had given a statement to the police pinpointing Sims and Graves at the scene, reported CNN. A resident across the street from the restaurant, Shalema Rodriguez, said she saw a few men leave the restaurant and a muscular one holding a firearm, alluding to Sims being he was a former athlete.
He did not testify at his criminal trial. When he testified in October, he spoke with the measured cadence of a man who had waited decades to do so.
He said he didn’t call the police out of fear of being charged as an accomplice. And he denied getting into any argument with Chen.
When asked why he didn’t say Graves killed Chen in his 2016 application to Brooklyn’s CRU, Sims said he worried that the office would discard his petition if he simply blamed Graves.
“I thought the CRU was designed to, like, help people wrongfully convicted and who didn’t get a fair trial,” Sims testified. “So I decided to just focus on what I thought was Brady violations, inconsistencies, and deal with the law.”
The following year, Graves testified that Sims was the shooter, knowing he would be arrested after for violating probation. That was enough to put Sims away and by testifying to the grand jury, Graves was granted immunity by New York state.
Sims’s attorney filed a motion in 2021 to overturn his conviction arguing he was not given a fair trial. Sims was granted a wrongful conviction evidentiary hearing by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. There will also be a new witness to consider, who claims she saw Graves with the gun that night.
Hopefully, this case can give the system a chance to undo putting away another innocent Black man.
Headline updated as of 3/11/2022 at 10:30 a.m. ET