A clerical error kept Cornealious "Mike" Anderson, 37, out of prison for 13 years. As a free man, Anderson started his own construction-related businesses, married and had children. He also coached youth football and volunteered at his church. Basically, Anderson was an upstanding, taxpaying citizen.
But after the mistake was caught, the Missouri man was sent to prison, where he would remain for nearly a year—until Monday, when he walked out of court a free man once again.
According to the Associated Press, it took only a 10-minute hearing for Mississippi County, Mo., Associate Circuit Judge Terry Lynn Brown to rule that Anderson should be given credit for time served during those 13 years and immediately granted Anderson his freedom.
"He has been able to accomplish for himself what the criminal-justice system does not accomplish in many situations," Patrick Megaro told the judge, AP reports.
Anderson was convicted of robbing a fast-food restaurant's assistant manager when he was 23 and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was told that he would be contacted with information on which prison to report to. Last month Anderson told AP that he waited and even asked about going to prison, but the order never came.
Megaro told the judge at the hearing on Monday that Anderson remained out of prison through no fault of his own and that he had turned his life around, AP reports.
The judge agreed, pointing out that while Anderson's crime was serious, he's a far different man now than he was then.
"You've been a good father," Brown said, AP reports. "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."
According to AP, after the judge announced his decision, Anderson's relatives broke out in sobs.
Anderson left the courthouse holding his wife and 3-year-old daughter on one arm and his grandmother on the other. AP notes that all of them had tears in their eyes. "Very happy," Anderson told AP as he climbed into an SUV for the ride home to suburban St. Louis. "My faith has always been in God. I'm just so thankful. I just thank God for everybody."
Read more at the Associated Press.