Cornealious “Mike” Anderson was 23 when he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in the robbery of a fast-food restaurant’s assistant manager. He was told to wait until he was contacted, in order to serve his time.
He waited…and waited…and waited.
Anderson had been “hiding” in plain site. He filed his taxes on time from the small business he started; coached kids in sports, got married and started a family before the clerical error that had kept him free for more than a decade caught up with him.
In 2013, at the age of 36, he was contacted and became known as prisoner 1039699.
When his capture went viral, with supporters weighing in from every corner of the globe; including the victim of his crime who said the man should be set free, his case was reopened. He had served nearly a year in prison.
But today he was sent home, for good.
According to the Associated Press, on Monday, Anderson walked out of a southeast Missouri courtroom a free man again — this time with no need to look over his shoulder.
Mississippi County Associate Circuit Judge Terry Lynn Brown needed just a 10-minute hearing before ruling that he was giving Anderson credit for time served for all 4,794 days between his conviction and when he was arrested last year. The judge granted Anderson his immediate freedom.
Anderson, 37, left the courthouse with his wife and 3-year-old daughter on one arm, his mother on the other, tears in all of their eyes.
“Very happy,” Anderson said as he climbed into a sport utility vehicle for the ride home to suburban St. Louis and a planned family celebration. “My faith has always been in God. I’m just so thankful. That God for everybody.”
At Monday’s hearing, Anderson’s attorney, Patrick Megaro, said Anderson remained out of prison through no fault of his own, and in the intervening years, turned his life around.
“He has been able to accomplish for himself what the criminal justice system does not accomplish in many situations,” Megaro told the judge.
Brown agreed. He pointed out that Anderson’s crime was serious, but acknowledged that he’s a far different man now than he was then.
“You’ve been a good father,” Brown said. “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.”
As the judge announced his decision, about 10 of Anderson’s relatives broke out in sobs and cried. Some hugged and thanked God.
“Go home to your family, Mr. Anderson,” Brown said after his ruling.
Read more of the details of this story at Yahoo News and see the news report directly below.