Clare Bradburn says she has grown accustomed to the criminal justice system letting her down.
Her ex-husband, Ed Graf, was convicted of killing her two sons in a 1986 fire behind her home in Hewitt, but his conviction was overturned 25 years later and she had to endure the emotional turmoil of a second trial.
While the jury was deliberating Graf’s fate in 2014, Graf accepted a 60-year plea bargain offered by McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna that allowed Graf to walk out of prison within seven days on mandatory parole.
On Monday, Bradburn was notified by Texas Department of Criminal Justice victims’ services representatives that the Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to allow Graf to remove the GPS ankle monitor he has worn since his release from prison that tracked his every movement.
It was not a shock to her. She had been notified that the board would consider removing the monitor. But the vote still came as a bitter disappointment to Bradburn and her family.
“We expected this news one day. It is not shocking considering the rocky road we have traveled for the past 32 years and plead our concerns to faceless individuals,” Bradburn said in a statement. “These individuals are sworn to protect the law-abiding citizens from those who would murder the innocent. It is now apparent they are more concerned with appeasing a child murderer than protecting the children’s family and friends.
“By forcing victims to protect themselves, the faceless cowards have broken down the once-proud judicial system to a mere shame and mockery of justice. It is too soft and has created an upside-down legal system concerned more about the well-being of the criminal. We now have advanced technology and other forms of protection, and eyes are watching!”
Bradburn said she and her family have tried to maintain a positive attitude and said she refuses to allow Graf to affect their lifestyle or daily activities.
“We continue to be blessed,” she said. “My heartfelt thanks to our many supportive family and friends.”
Graf, 65, accepted the plea bargain from the DA’s office and was sentenced to 60 years in prison in October 2014, moments before the jury, which had deliberated almost 11 hours, voted to convict him in the deaths of his adopted stepsons, Jason and Joby. He will be on parole until 2048, but he won’t be required to wear the ankle monitor.
Raymond Estrada, a spokesman for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, said Graf has had no problems while under parole supervision. He said Graf was removed from the Super-Intensive Supervision Program in December and continues to live in Kerrville, where he works for a construction company.
Waco attorney Michelle Tuegel, who represented Graf along with attorney Walter M. Reaves Jr. during his retrial, said Graf has been a model prisoner in and out of prison and poses no threat to anyone.
“Clearly, for the board to make that decision, he has been carefully following their rules, which have been very strict now for years, and he has been complying with everything they have set out for him or they wouldn’t have even given this consideration,” Tuegel said. “He has shown he can follow the rules on parole and, quite frankly, we feel like this should have been done a long time ago. He is an older man now who spent a lot of time in prison who just wants to live his life quietly and peacefully, work hard and spend time with his family.”
Bradburn said she was puzzled and disappointed when Graf was released from prison so soon. She said Reyna told her Graf would have to serve at least 2 1/2 years more in prison before he came up for parole again, and he promised his office would do everything it could to oppose his release.
But she said she also took a great deal of satisfaction in looking at Graf and hearing him say he was guilty of killing her two sons in a shed fire behind their house, an unspeakable act he had always denied.
Unlike Reyna, Reaves and Tuegel, who consulted with a parole expert during Graf’s trial, knew Graf’s time in prison would be short because once the prison gave him credit for the 25 years he served and added on his good-time credits, he had already earned enough time for mandatory release.