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The backyard shed, before and after the fire that killed Joby and Jason Graf In Youngblood’s view, one of the most damaging pieces of evidence against Graf was the life insurance he bought for Joby and Jason. Graf testified that he bought the policies on all three children, including their infant son, to save money for college. In fact, Graf’s father had bought a similar policy for Ed when he was a child, from the same insurance companya policy that acts as a savings account for tuition. Youngblood says Graf’s purchase of life insurance just before the fire was coincidence. As he got to know Ed Graf, Youngblood says, he didn’t believe the man capable of such a gruesome crime. Graf has a cool exterior, Youngblood says, but is kind. He had no history of violence. While he embezzled money, that doesn’t mean he was capable of burning two children alive. “Usually the embezzlers are very passive people,” Youngblood says, which is why they steal money by secretly siphoning cash into their own accounts instead of, say, robbing a bank. Youngblood believes the more likely explanation for the fire is that the boys ignited it themselves. He suspects they snuck into the shed to experiment with fire and it got out of hand. Neighbors testified at trial that they had seen Joby and Jason smoking cigarettes and playing with fire. A teacher at their school testified that she had caught them playing with matches in the schoolyard. Two children who played with Joby and Jason testified that the boys had started a small grass fire in a neighbor’s yard a few months before their deaths. Another neighbor told Graf’s attorneys that she wouldn’t allow Joby and Jason in her house because she worried about their misbehavior, including starting fires. “It’s a tragic situation:’ Youngblood says. “I feel comfortable saying without any doubt in my mind that these were two little 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 29, 2009 boys who liked to play, liked to play hard and play a little dangerous. They liked to play with fire. That was substantiated.” It’s an example of why circumstantial evidence doesn’t prove guilt. There are always alternative explanations. Once you move past the circumstantial evidence, the case against Graf begins to look flimsy. No witnesses saw Graf drag the boys into the shed, though his yard was visible to several neighbors that afternoon. Recently Walter Reaves, a Waco attorney who works on innocence claims, began looking into Graf’s conviction. He talked with Youngblood and discerned right away that the case was mostly circumstantial. In Reaves’ view, the only hard evidence that linked Graf to murder was the expert forensic testimony. Last year, as Reaves began working to win exoneration or a new trial for Graf, he asked Dr. Gerald Hurst in Austin, one of the country’s leading arson experts, to re-examine the case. The two men had worked together on the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for starting a house fire in North Texas that killed his children. Willingham was convicted on flawed arson evidence and was almost assuredly innocent. \(The Texas Forensic Science Commission is studying the Willingham case and could release its report as early Hurst, who has helped exonerate dozens of defendants wrongly indicted or convicted by junk arson science, produced a report on the Graf case in September 2008 that picks apart the physical evidence. He concluded that nearly every piece of forensic evidence that sent Ed Graf to prison for life was seriously flawed. Perhaps the biggest problem with the case was the lack of