WACO (May 17, 2013)—Bond was set Friday at $1.5 million for once convicted Hewitt child killer Ed Graf who was returned to Waco last week after a state appeals court ordered the district court to review his 1988 conviction for capital murder in the fiery 1986 deaths of his two adopted sons.
Graf had requested a $50,000 bond, but after hearing testimony Friday morning from Graf’s ex-wife and brother, State District Court Judge Matt Johnson decided on the higher amount.
Graf’s ex-wife, Clare Bradburn, the mother of the two boys, who testified Friday she would be concerned about her safety and the safety of the community if Graf was released, said she was pleased with the judge’s ruling.
But Craig Graf, who testified on his brother’s behalf Friday, said Graf’s family can’t afford to post the $1.5 million bond, which means Ed Graf will remain jailed as he awaits a new trial.
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said Friday that he’s pursuing the case and intends to prosecute.
He said he would not seek the death penalty.
We are pleased with Judge Johnson’s ruling regarding the bond," Reyna later said in a prepared statement.
"Over 26 years ago, the lives of two little boys were tragically ended. Changes in fire science caused Ed Graf's case to come back to McLennan County. It is my honor to continue to seek justice for the boys," he said.
Graf was returned to the McLennan County Jail after an April 22 order from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that vacated his conviction based on an appeal that said expert testimony during his trial was based upon what was later determined to be bad science.
Graf was convicted of killing his adopted sons Joby, then 9, and Jason, then 8, who died in a backyard shed that was consumed by fire on August 26, 1986.
Graf, now 60, has maintained all along he did not set the fire.
In January, saying the scientific evidence presented in the original trial was flawed, retired State District Judge George Allen recommended a new trial for Graf.
Allen presided over the original trial in 1988 in which Graf was convicted of capital murder after a McLennan County jury found that he set fire to the shed after locking the boys inside.
The recommendation, which went to the appeals court, came after experts testified earlier that the scientific evidence in Graf's trial was based on a hypothesis that studies have since discredited.
Investigators and experts for the prosecution told the jury in 1988 that certain patterns found on the floor of the shed could only mean the fire was set with an accelerant.
But recent findings by arson experts may indicate other causes, and Reaves thinks they could lead to a different verdict.
Combustion science expert Douglas James Carpenter of Baltimore testified during a hearing on Jan. 11 in Waco that he thinks the fire started accidentally and he said the doors of the shed had to be open based on the carbon monoxide levels in the lungs of the two boys, not closed as prosecutors maintained during Graf's original trial.
A second witness, arson expert Robert Paul Bieber of San Jose, Calif., testified that he presented Graf's case to 33 top arson investigators who concluded that the findings of the original investigation were unreliable.
Graf's conviction is among between 25 and 50 nationwide involved in a study conducted by New York-based John Jay College, which says that because arson investigations prior to 2005 were flawed, many people convicted of arson murder prior to 2005 could have been wrongly convicted.