Philly DA Announces Accused Exonerated after 22 Years Incarceration for Gunpoint Robbery 

By Audrey Sawyer and Enola Gueta 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Wednesday the exoneration of 59-year-old Keith Graves following a year-and-a-half investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).

In a media release, the district attorney’s office in Philadelphia’s CIU had agreed to drop all charges against Graves, who was exonerated by the Hon. Scott DiClaudio.

According to the media release, Graves spent 22 years behind bars while his attorneys would receive additional information after the conviction of Graves pointing towards the involvement of a man, James Lewis, as the real perpetrator.

The media release explains Graves was initially tried and convicted of gunpoint robbery in 2002—the incident occurring a year prior in a South Philadelphia bar. He had been tried alongside three other co-accused despite CIU prosecutors at the time admitting that the evidence pointing to Graves was “extraordinarily thin.”

The CIU details how the other co-accused, unaware of each other’s identities, went purely off of voice recognition, with this evidence being used alongside an eyewitness testimony whose physical description did not match Graves.

The media release added that in 2017, Judge Teresa M. Samina denied a Post Conviction Relief Act submitted by Graves based on procedural grounds, but had taken a step to notify the CIU of concerns regarding the conviction. The judge wrote in her letter that “no one benefits from having innocent people in jail.”

In January 2024, assistant district attorneys Attie and Sara Cohbra from CIU made an unannounced visit to SCI Dallas to interview Lewis, currently serving a 20- to 40-year sentence for third-degree murder resulting from an unaffiliated crime, the DA release notes.

In fact, the CIU said, Lewis confessed during the interview that he had committed the crime, along with admitting Graves had not participated in the robbery.

DA Krasner thanked CIU Supervisor Michael Garmisa and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Attie on the investigation, adding his administration will “continue to seek even handed justice using the facts at hand, wherever they may lead.”

ADA Attie stated the CIU is thrilled that Graves will be able to go home to see his children and family, adding, “We are inspired by their strength and persistent hope that justice would be done one day.”

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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