The judge said that rather than grant parole, Anderson would get credit for the entirety of the time he should have been in prison. The distinction is important because it means Anderson doesn’t have to report to a parole agent.
Megaro lauded the state’s understanding of an occurrence that is exceedingly rare.
“This was not an easy case,” Megaro said. “I believe it teaches us that justice can be swift, justice can be harsh, but justice also can be merciful.”
Anderson had never been convicted of a serious crime before the robbery. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the holdup, then told to wait for orders that would specify when and where he was to report to prison. But the orders never came. Anderson suspected his case had been overlooked and asked his former attorney what to do.
“Day by day, month by month, year by year, time passed, and they never picked me up,” he said in an interview last month with The Associated Press. A court filing by the Attorney General’s Office said the mistake happened when a trial court clerk failed to inform the Missouri Supreme Court that Anderson was free on bond after his initial conviction.
So Anderson went about his life, never trying to conceal his whereabouts or identity. He married, divorced, married again. He raised three children of his own and a stepchild, owned and operated three construction businesses. He coached his son’s youth football team in Webster Groves, and he ran the video operation at his church.
In July, Anderson’s sentence was supposed to end. It was then that someone at the Missouri Department of Corrections realized he had never been put behind bars. Eight U.S. marshals arrived one morning at his home in a middle-class neighborhood and took him away. He was in prison by noon that day, and had remained behind bars until Monday.
The hearing was in Charleston, Missouri, because that’s where Anderson had been imprisoned.
“Go home to your family, Mr. Anderson,” Brown said after his ruling.