Man, 59, exonerated after spending 22 years incarcerated for 2002 gunpoint robbery: DA

A man is now free after spending 22 years in prison for a wrongfully convicted gunpoint robbery case, according to District Attorney's office. 

Following a year and a half investigation, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) announced Wednesday that 59-year-old Keith Graves has been exonerated. 

This marks the 45th exoneration secured by DA Krasner's CIU.

According to the DA, Graves was 37 at the time he and three co-defendants were convicted in 2002 of participating in a gunpoint robbery that occurred inside a South Philadelphia bar in July 2001. 

Two of the three defendants were also convicted of rape, Graves was not. 

During the investigation, CIU prosecutors determined that the evidence against Graves was "extraordinarily thin."

A press release sent to FOX 29 from the DA’s office, revealed "the only evidence pointing to Graves' alleged involvement were highly tenuous voice identifications from three individuals, all of whom acknowledged that they were uncertain of their identifications, and one eyewitness who provided a physical description that did not match Graves; for example, the witness incorrectly identified Graves as having tattoos, light hair, and a light complexion."

Sources familiar with the crime also told investigators that another man named James Lewis was one of the perpetrators and that Graves was not involved. 

The investigation resulted in Graves spending 22 years behind bars. 


In the years that followed the conviction, Graves' attorneys received additional information pointing to Lewis' involvement, however they were unable to prove that he was the actual perpetrator instead of Graves.

In 2017, a judge denied a Post Conviction Relief Act petition submitted by Graves solely on procedural grounds. 

However, after denying the petition, she took the unusual step of notifying the CIU of concerns she had regarding the conviction. 

The DA says in the judge’s letter she noted that "[n]o 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 James Lewis, who they say is currently serving a 20 to 40 year sentence for Third Degree Murder stemming from an unrelated crime. 

During the interview, the ADAs say Lewis confessed to committing the crime and acknowledged that Graves did not participate in the robbery. 

Lewis provided a highly detailed narrative of the robbery, including details that strongly indicated he was involved in the crime.

"I'm grateful to CIU Supervisor Michael Garmisa and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Attie for the excellent investigation they conducted in this matter," said DA Krasner. "My administration will continue to seek evenhanded justice using the facts at hand, wherever they may lead."

"The CIU is thrilled that Mr. Graves will now be able to go home and see his children and family," said ADA Attie. "We're inspired by their strength and persistent hope that justice would be done one day."

The DAO's CIU agreed to drop all charges against Graves on May 22, 2024, and he was subsequently exonerated by the Hon. Scott DiClaudio.