WACO, Texas (AP) — A Central Texas man whose conviction for setting a fire that killed his two sons was set aside faces capital murder charges as prosecutors seek to find him guilty a second time.
A new indictment announced Wednesday charges Ed Graf with two counts of capital murder, two counts of murder and four counts of felony injury to a child, The Waco Tribune-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1oN0xyP).
Graf's previous murder conviction was set aside by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which sided with arson experts who criticized the testimony used to persuade jurors that the fire that killed Graf's 8- and 9-year-old boys was arson.
His case has since been taken up by criminal justice advocates and a state panel that reviews arson investigations to see if they meet current fire science standards. The panel, convened by the state fire marshal's office, also found faults with the fire investigation in Graf's case.
Two fire investigators testified at Graf's 1988 trial that a burn pattern known as "alligator" charring and other signs suggested someone set the fire that engulfed a backyard shed at the family's home in Hewitt, near Waco. They say deep charring near the shed's entrance suggests someone may have set the fire from the outside with an accelerant like lighter fluid.
But the investigators were never able to examine the remnants of the shed itself because it was torn down immediately after the fire. And experts now say the investigators at trial misinterpreted those signs, which could have occurred in an accidental fire.
Prosecutors say they have enough to win another conviction even without the fire evidence.
Graf's ex-wife, Clare Bradburn, has maintained that she believes Graf is guilty and points to several signs that Graf was behaving suspiciously before and after the fire in the backyard shed of Graf's home in Hewitt, near Waco. Bradburn has said Graf took out life insurance policies on both boys months before the fire, a possible motive for their deaths.
The indictment returned Wednesday accuses Graf of killing the boys for the insurance money under the two counts of capital murder.
The two murder counts do not repeat the allegation about the insurance proceeds, the Tribune-Herald reported. The four injury to a child counts accuse Graf of causing serious injury to Joby and Jason Graf though a variety of ways, including preventing the boys from escaping the burning shed or stopping others from helping them.
The district judge overseeing the case has issued a gag order for attorneys on both sides.
Graf remains in the McLennan County jail pending a May 19 trial date.
Information from: Waco Tribune-Herald, http://www.wacotrib.com