Former Death-Row Inmate Sent Back to Prison

Martin Draughon returns to the clink after becoming a test case for alleged flaws in GPS monitoring devices

"I believe completely this is where I am meant to be," Draughon wrote on his Web site. "This is not a popular decision with my 2 sisters. All these years, it has been understood, I would parole out to one or the other sister, if and when that time came. Well, all that changed when I fell in love."

Felicia was visiting her younger sister and mother when she received the information about Draughon's parole. Weathers delivered the news with a phone call.

"I've daydreamed about that day my whole life," Felicia says.

A party was planned for Draughon (third from right) the night he was paroled off death row.
Courtesy of Giles Lyon
A party was planned for Draughon (third from right) the night he was paroled off death row.
Draughon is back in prison on a parole violation.
Daniel Kramer
Draughon is back in prison on a parole violation.

Felicia dropped to her knees and started screaming and crying in joy. Weathers told her that Draughon would be released in eight days, and Felicia's head started to spin.

Since her brother went to prison, Felicia had a recurring dream — about two or three times a year — about Draughon being released from prison on a vacation. They would hold hands the entire dream, but Draughon would always be taken away.

The dream was the first thing that flashed in Felicia's mind when Weathers told her about the parole. She fired off questions to Weathers. Felicia wanted to know what she needed to do. Weathers told her not to do a thing, because Draughon had decided to parole to ­Livingston.

"I felt crushed," Felicia says. "Not to mention me getting robbed, my family getting robbed, of getting to see him after 20 years, and getting to hug him, which was totally getting yanked right from underneath us."

The months Draughon was out on parole, Felicia never saw her brother. She traveled to Livingston once, but only after his parole was revoked. She saw him in the Polk County Jail, where he was waiting for a parole hearing. The two sat and talked at a picnic bench inside the jail. It was the first time they had touched since Draughon was sent to death row.

"I've been in the dark a lot, because since Joy came into his life, she's been his go-to woman," Felicia says. "Things have tapered off a lot since all this. It's really put a wedge between us — he and Joy — that relationship."

Trouble started in Livingston almost instantly.

Three days after Draughon was paroled, Wolfe called the police. According to a report from the Livingston Police Department, Wolfe told officers that he wanted Weathers and Draughon out of his house "due to them lying and causing him problems."

Weathers told police that Wolfe had a problem with her and Draughon being romantically involved. Weathers also told police that Wolfe kept guns in his house.

Draughon had tried to stay out of it. He stood at the sink and washed dishes when the argument began.

Wolfe never filed a written complaint with the police department, and the situation was soon resolved. Wolfe says he and Draughon eventually became friends.

The incident didn't result in a parole revocation, but, according to Draughon's attorney, Sean Buckley, it was definitely a negative mark.

Draughon's parole guidelines were set by the state's Super Intensive Supervision Program, designed for parolees who are considered dangerous or likely to commit another crime. Draughon was required to wear a GPS monitor around his ankle. His parole officer, Jim McKee, would have to preapprove any time Draughon went outside the house.

Draughon's first trip was to a large retail center in Livingston. McKee approved six hours for Draughon to go to Lowe's, Wal-Mart and an outlet mall. Draughon and Weathers decided to walk.

After a brief stop at Lowe's, the couple went to Burger King, which had not been preapproved. They left Burger King and went to Wal-Mart, and then they walked home.

The following morning, four Livingston police officers arrived at the house to arrest Draughon. McKee had issued a warrant because of the stop at Burger King.

McKee suggested to the parole board that Draughon should be placed in a halfway house, away from Livingston, if Draughon was released from prison again.

McKee would not comment about the case, but, according to documents from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, McKee was concerned about the relationship between Weathers and Draughon. He wrote that the environment in Livingston was not a stable one. Furthermore, McKee was disturbed by the fact that when he asked Draughon a question, Weathers often answered.

During his revocation hearing, Draughon argued that McKee had told him it was okay to stop for food, if he ordered it to go. McKee said he never said that, and Draughon and Weathers called McKee a liar.

"Boy, the big guys must have really made you do this," Draughon said to McKee.

The parole board voted to allow Draughon to be released. Before he could return to Livingston, Draughon had to stop at McKee's office to sign some ­documents.

While they were talking, McKee pushed the papers to the side of his desk and said, "Draughon, are you sure you don't want to move to Florida? Get out of Texas and go live with your sisters?"

"No," Draughon replied. "This is where my woman is. This is where my ministry is. This is where God paroled me out to, and this is where I'm supposed to be."

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