PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) - Anthony Graves , 45, has been a free man for nearly two months - after having missed nearly two decades serving time for a heinous crime that he did not commit.
He spent 18 years on death row for the grisly murders of a grandmother, her daughter, and four grandchildren in 1992. Their Somerville, Texas, home was set on fire to cover up the crime.
Click the videos to the left of this story for a full-length interview, which will be updated later in the day.
Robert Earl Carter, the father of one of the children, was convicted of capital murder and given the death penalty. But Carter told authorities he did not act alone and implicated Graves as his accomplice.
He later testified against Graves at trial.
Graves was 26 when he went to prison - and he maintained his innocence for the next 18 years.
Then just before Carter, the real murderer, was executed in 2000, he recanted and said Graves had nothing to do with it. It took the courts six years to overturn the case. It took almost four more for Graves to be set free.
He was in prison for nearly 10 years after the man who accused him admitted he was innocent.
Bad as it was for Graves, it wasn't the worst out there. On Tuesday, Cornelius Dupree Jr. was exonerated by DNA evidence in Dallas after 30 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
"Our criminal justice system is a beast that needs to be tamed," he said. "It threatens us all."
Now, instead of living in a cement cell, Graves is living in his sister's Pflugerville living room. In the time he's been locked up, society has seen the advent of the cell phone and broader use of e-mail. New laws and new societal norms. New career paths, new politics.
Two decades behind bars leaves a lot for a man to catch up on. And those are just the big things. The little adjustments seem to come with similar difficulty.
"I am still using prison lingo, like calling a plate a 'tray,' " he said. "I am no longer like a dog getting a tray of food through a slot."
Graves told KXAN he is "searching for a place to call mine." But his apartment hunt has yet to turn up a new home for him.
"I got denied from an apartment last week, and I think it is because I was on death row," Graves said.
Graves is living out of a suitcase that he stores in the corner of his sister's living room. Inside, there are a few T-shirts, pants and a hygiene bag.
"This is all I have," said Graves, who says he depends on donations to get by.
He takes the suitcase with him as he bounces from relative's house to relative's house. Recently, he acquired his first cell phone and computer.
He admits he's struggling to learn how to use all the new technology, especially social networking sites like Facebook, and texting.
"Technology is crazy. You can go all over the world just on your cell phone, that is crazy. I see people texting and and I am like, 'Why not call?' "
Before I went to prison, everyone picked up the phone and called," Graves said, who has his own Facebook page .
He won't even go near his nephew's Playstation. Still, Graves remains optimistic he will catch on.
Graves said during his time behind bars, he often asked himself, "Why me?"
"I cried a lot in my bunk. It hurt, but I had to grow a tough skin," Graves said.
Despite the adversity he faced and being called a murderer when he wasn't, Graves told KXAN he does not harbor any bitterness.
"When you fight the good fight for so long, there is no room to be bitter," Graves said.
In the upcoming year, Graves wants to return to school and hopes to get a job working for the Texas Defense Association.
Graves is preparing for a busy year ahead. He plans a book about his experience and is currently "in talks" with ghostwriters. He will also appear on the BBC and other national shows documenting his experience on death row.
He has yet to receive any compensation from the state, but said he filed papers with the State Comptroller's Office last week.
Meanwhile, he casts his eye on the future with optimism - and the potential for love. He'd like to start a family one day, he said, though he has no solid plan for that right now.
"I will let that come to me," Graves said.
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