Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dave Graf: Texas; Retrial. Day 2; Reporter Dave Mann spells out what prosecutor Michael Jarrett cannot disclose to the jury. Texas Observer.

STORY: "At Ed Graf trial, prosecutors rely on circumstantial evidence,"  by reporter Dave Mann, published by the Texas Observer on October 8, 2014.

GIST: "Michael Jarrett has no easy task. The McLennan County assistant district attorney is trying to convince a Waco jury this week to convict Ed Graf of murdering his two stepsons. Graf stands accused of setting the fire in a shed behind his house that killed the 8- and 9-year-old boys in 1986. The tricky part is that Jarrett must prove Graf’s guilt without the benefit of physical evidence. In fact, the scientific evidence in the case, according to several leading national experts, points to an accidental fire.......Making Jarrett’s assignment even more difficult, he can’t disclose to the jury why Graf is just now standing trial for events that transpired 28 years ago. He can’t tell the jury that Graf was originally convicted in 1988, that he served 25 years of a life sentence in prison and that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction last year, ruling that the forensic evidence of arson was faulty and unreliable. The judge has ruled that any knowledge of the previous proceedings could bias the jury. So Jarrett can’t reveal to the jury the very reason for this week’s bizarre re-trial.........He may not have much forensic evidence to present, but he has a wealth of circumstantial evidence that casts suspicion on Graf, and Jarrett will make use of every bit of it. Jarrett ended with the one new piece of evidence he had: The jury, he said, would hear testimony from jailhouse witnesses about how Graf talked about the boys recently. They will reveal that Graf told them “Those little bastards got exactly what they deserved.” That would seem a devastating bit of testimony, if it’s true. Jailhouse witnesses are notoriously unreliable.........In their opening statement, Graf’s defense attorneys had no narrative to tell. They didn’t have to. They went straight for scientific fact. “We’re going to bring you scientific fact,” said Michelle Tuegel, one of three attorneys arguing Graf’s defense. “We’re going to bring you 2014 science in this case, not 1986 science.” She then briefly explained that the field of fire investigation had advanced considerably since 1986. And she described why fire scientists now believe the fire was likely accidental, perhaps started by the boys, how the high levels of carbon monoxide found in the bodies indicate that the fire was an accident......... The prosecution continued to build its case on Wednesday morning. The trial is expected to last at least the rest of the week, and perhaps run into next week."

The entire story can be found at:

See KCEN account: Reporter Chris davis; "Prosecutors dove deep into the numbers on Wednesday, day two of the retrial for Ed Graf.  Graf was convicted in 1988 of setting fire to his shed in Hewitt, killing his two adopted sons.  And Wednesday, the state pushed hard to show he had a financial motive to do it.  One witness for the state took up most of the testimony throughout the morning and into the afternoon. He's the life insurance adviser who worked with Graf on policies for both Joby and Jason, 7 and 9 years old, respectively, at the time.........


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