HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas man who unexpectedly pleaded guilty to killing his two adopted stepsons in 1986 after years of claiming his innocence was released from prison Wednesday and headed for a halfway house and strict parole supervision for likely the rest of his life.
Edward E. Graf Jr. left a prison in Abilene escorted by staff from the halfway house he will call home for an undetermined amount of time until he's allowed to find a more permanent residence, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said.
"It's designed to transition him back to society," Clark said of the halfway house. He would not immediately confirm the facility's location.
The Waco Tribune-Herald reported Graf was assigned to a halfway house in El Paso.
The parole came eight days after Graf, 62, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder as a jury in Waco was deliberating during his retrial for the deaths of stepsons Joby, 9, and Jason, 8. The plea deal carried a 60-year prison sentence but counted his 28 years in custody as time served. The combination of so-called "good time" made him immediately eligible for mandatory supervision, a form of parole in Texas.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last year granted Graf a new trial after a panel of fire experts concluded arson investigators who testified against Graf at his first trial were wrong.
"I think we're all relieved that he's been released," Michelle Tuegel, one of Graf's attorneys, said. "And I think he's ready to start putting his life back together in the outside world.
"I know that's going to require some work. It's not going to be a walk in the park."
Graf is paroled to Texas' Super-Intensive Supervision Program, the highest level of offender supervision. Until April 2048, when he would be 95, his requirements include wearing a GPS monitor and complying with a 24-hour-a-day schedule pre-approved by his parole officer, Clark said.
Graf's lawyers and some relatives were in Huntsville on Monday, anticipating he would be released then and they could accompany him to a halfway house in Austin. They said prison officials told them all his paperwork wasn't in order and his release would be delayed.
By Wednesday, Graf had been transferred to a prison in Abilene, about 300 miles to the northwest, and his destination had changed.
Clark said a "number of factors" went into the parole plan, including finding an appropriate housing location.
"There are some safety concerns, because of the nature of his case," Clark said. "There is a limited number of halfway house beds across the state. And we have to look at restrictions placed by the parole board."
Clare Bradburn, Graf's ex-wife and the mother of the two boys killed, has said she wanted Graf to remain in prison for the rest of his life. But she said if Graf must be released, she found comfort he finally admitted he killed her sons and that he will be under the highest level of parole supervision.