Samuel Anstey


County of Conviction: Fayette
Convicted of: 1st Degree Murder
Sentence: Life without Mercy
Time Served: 22 years
WVIP Involvement: Client, State Habeas Petition

Mr. Anstey is an innocent man who has spent nearly half his life incarcerated in state prison for a crime he did not commit. Following a fire in the trailer he shared with his grandmother, investigators identified what they believed to be evidence of arson and Mr. Anstey was indicted and convicted for First Degree Murder by Arson. A total of four investigators examined the scene, each making grave errors in the preservation of the scene and the evidence, while succumbing to expectation bias, which completely eliminated the reliability and accuracy of the conclusion that Mr. Anstey started the fire. In December 2014, through the help of the West Virginia Innocence Project, Mr. Anstey filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Circuit Court of Fayette County. The Petition exposed the outdated and erroneous science used to convict him. Following years of development in the field of arson science, the most up to date data demonstrates that Mr. Anstey did not start the fire that killed his grandmother—invalidating his conviction. Following the denial of the Petition, the WVIP appealed the Circuit Court’s decision. Although, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia denied Mr. Anstey’s Appeal, Mr. Anstey is consistently and continuously fighting for a chance to rectify this wrong and gain his freedom.