“In a time when we’re all supposed to be tweeting and blogging, I’m so grateful that I work at a place that, when a narrative merits it, will allow 14,000 words for a story,” Colloff said of Texas Monthly. “Because you could not tell this story and really, truly have people understand the injustice that happened here in much less space than that.” Colloff said she is also grateful for her fact-checker, associate editor David Moorman, who hadn’t “slept for a month.”

The Texas Monthly editors knew the special prosecutor who had been hired that year to retry Graves, Kelly Siegler, would be forced to acknowledge the evidence the magazine story laid out. But neither Colloff nor Cásarez expected what happened next: in less than a month, Siegler and District Attorney Bill Parham announced that the case was dismissed. Graves was a free man.

One of Graves’s defense attorneys, Katherine Scardino, said that while the article alone would be unlikely to persuade Siegler to dismiss the case, “it might have given her some substance to begin a very detailed, professional, competent, efficient investigation.”

This LAUREL goes to Nicole Cásarez, who investigated this story over eight years, and to Pamela Colloff, who deftly translated the facts into a compelling narrative for a wider audience. In a press conference after Graves’s release, a reporter asked Graves, now forty-five, what he wanted to say to the world. He thought for a minute, and then said, “Never give up. Stand for what you believe in, and try to make change. Because in the end, it helps us all.”

 

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner