ST. LOUIS, April 15 (UPI) -- The state of Missouri let a man convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to prison roam free.
For thirteen years.
In 1999, Cornealious "Mike" Anderson, of St. Louis was convicted for the armed robbery of a Burger King manager who was making the night drop and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
He paid his bond and went back to his life while going through the appeals process.
When a judge rejected his final appeal, he waited for word on when to surrender himself to the penal system, but word never came.
And he kept waiting.
For a long time.
He also kept busy.
Anderson met a girl, fell in love, took up the trade of carpentry, had four children, started his own contracting business, joined a church, started coaching youth sports.
Years passed. Over a decade. And only last summer when his sentence “ended” did officials notice he was never actually incarcerated and sent U.S. Marshals to his family’s quiet house in the suburbs to finally lock him away.
Anderson was arrested and is currently waiting behind bars for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to respond to a petition for his release, according to TODAY.
“I never felt like a fugitive, because a fugitive's someone that's running from the law,’’ he said. “I never ran from the law. I was there."
"This man is not a fugitive," Anderon’s attorney Patrick Michael Megaro said. "He didn't try to hide."
“Even the victim himself went on record and said, ‘I don’t think this guy should be in jail,’” Megaro added.
“It’s just very hard,’’ said Anderson’s wife, LaQonna Anderson. “And I miss my husband very, very much. My kids miss their father.”
Nearly 14,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking for Anderson’s release, but the current prosecutor in his case told TODAY, "I believe that if we allowed somebody to avoid an incarceration sentence, it's just a slippery slope.’’
“He built a business, he built a house,” said Megaro. “He never changed his name. He owned a corporation. He did everything by the book. He pays his taxes. He coaches football. He goes to church. For 13 years, what more do you want a man to do?”
The Missouri state attorney general is due to respond in court to Megaro’s petition to get Anderson released on Tuesday.