Edward E. Graf Jr., was transferred to prison Friday morning and appears to be on the fast track to freedom, likely within a week.
Waco attorney Walter M. Reaves Jr. said he and co-counsel Michelle Tuegel went to visit Graf at the McLennan County Jail about 1 p.m. Friday and were told Graf had been taken to the Byrd prison unit in Huntsville for processing two hours earlier.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said Graf will be released from prison “within a week,” depending on how long processing takes.
Graf, 62, surprised his own lawyers Tuesday when he decided to plead guilty to two counts of murder in exchange for a 60-year prison term as a 54th State District Court jury entered its 11th hour deliberating his guilt.
Graf admitted killing his two adopted stepsons by putting them in a shed behind his former Hewitt home and setting it on fire in 1986. Jason, 8, and Joby, 9, died from smoke inhalation and burns.
Ultimately, the jury arrived at the same verdict for which Graf pleaded guilty — two counts of murder. It just didn’t have a chance to inform the court that it had reached a verdict before Graf’s guilty plea.
Graf had professed his innocence for more than 25 years before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out his conviction and life sentence and awarded him a new trial based on claims that his 1988 conviction was based on junk fire science.
After Graf is processed into the prison, he is eligible immediately for mandatory supervised release based on the law that was in effect at the time of his offense.
He has been eligible for parole since 2008, but because he was serving a life sentence, he did not qualify for mandatory supervised release, Reaves said.
Graf’s plea agreement and 60-year sentence made him eligible for mandatory release because his credit for good behavior and the 26 years he served in prison add up to more than 60 years, his attorneys have said.
“I think he is on the fast track to be released, and I think it is going to be faster than I originally thought,” said Reaves, adding he thought it would be about 45 days before Graf would be released.
Reaves said he expected Graf to remain in the McLennan County Jail for at least two weeks before being taken back to prison.
“I’m guessing they are expediting it,” Reaves said. “I know the prison has already called the clerk’s office to see when the judgment would be ready and that is pretty unusual.”
Reaves said Graf will be supervised on parole for 32 years, if he lives that long. Reaves said he also expects Graf to be subject to electronic monitoring for a time after he gets out.
Shortly after Graf’s plea hearing Tuesday, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna told the boys’ mother, Clare Bradburn, and the jury that he thought Graf would serve a year or more before coming up for parole again. He also vowed to fight Graf’s parole.
But, in mandatory release cases, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is not involved in the releases. They are merely administrative duties of the Texas prison system, officials have said.