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Graf release projected for Thursday, then Dr. Phil possible

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Edward E. Graf could be released from prison on Thursday and will go to a halfway house in Austin under intensive supervision.

Walter M. Reaves Jr. and Michelle Tuegel, attorneys for Edward E. Graf Jr., didn’t stray too far from their phones Tuesday, hoping for some definitive word on when the convicted murderer of his two adopted stepsons will be released from prison.

The best guess now is Thursday, based on a prison website projected release date.

Reaves’ phone did not ring Tuesday. Tuegel’s did, but it was not anyone with the prison or parole systems. It was someone who worked for Dr. Phil McGraw, who wanted Graf to be a guest on the TV psychologist’s daytime show.

Tuegel said they are leaning toward declining the invitation and said she was more interested in hearing from someone who can tell her when Graf will be paroled.

Graf will be taken to a superintensive supervision program (SISP) halfway house in Austin, where he will reside while being tracked around-the-clock with a GPS ankle monitor.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said Tuesday he is unsure when the paperwork to process Graf out of the prison system will be done. The prison’s website was updated Tuesday to change Graf’s projected release date from Monday to Thursday.

Parole officials notified Clare Bradburn, Graf’s ex-wife and the mother of the slain boys, that he would be released from prison Monday.

A group of Graf’s family members, Reaves, Tuegel and investigator Ed McElyea waited all day Monday outside the Huntsville prison unit known as “The Walls” for Graf’s release. Just before 5 p.m., Reaves and McElyea went to the Huntsville parole office to find out why Graf was not among the 45 other inmates released earlier in the day.

They were told that officials were waiting for a certificate of release, which has to be signed by at least two members of the parole board. They were told it would not be ready for Graf’s release Monday, so the group went home.

Reaves said Tuesday he called the parole board chief counsel and the Texas parole release and classification office to try to get answers. No one returned his calls, he said.

“No one knows for sure when he is getting out, but we are planning on it being Thursday since that’s what the website says now,” Reaves said. “We can’t get any answers from anybody down there.”

Graf, 62, spent more than 25 years in prison serving a life sentence before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, ruling arson evidence used against him was flawed, threw out his conviction and awarded him a new trial.

Graf pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to 60 years, accepting a plea offer from prosecutors and taking the decision away from a 54th State District Court jury, which deliberated about 11 hours.

Jurors, who indicated they were deadlocked 10-2, reached a verdict at the same time Graf was pleading guilty to two counts of murder, and the panel didn’t have a chance to inform the court.

Jurors would have found Graf guilty of two counts of murder, one juror said.

Under the law in effect in 1986, the year the boys were killed in a fire in a shed behind Graf’s home in Hewitt, Graf is eligible for release now because the nearly 26 years he served in prison and in jail and his credit for good behavior add up to his mandatory release once he was sentenced to 60 years.

If he had gotten a life sentence after his retrial, he would not have been eligible for mandatory release now.

Graf has been eligible for parole since 2008 but has been turned down twice.

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