From prison, Graziano maintains innocence - FOX 13 News

From prison, Graziano maintains innocence

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RAIFORD (FOX 13) -

Ed Graziano has lots of painful dates seared in his memory, like the day his oldest son John nearly died in a crash accident.

"That was August 26 of '07," recalled Graziano.

A few months shy of his 57th birthday, life did not turn out the way he'd expected. Graziano is serving a 10-year prison sentence for conspiring to kill his wife.

"February 26, 2009 -- the day I was arrested," Graziano rattled off during his first-ever interview from Lawtey Correctional Institution, where he's serving time.

The most recent day he'd like to forget?

"Michael's death -- April 13, 2012," he continued. "I'm still in denial over Michael. I can't really talk about it."

Michael was the passenger in a car crash and suffered brain damage.  He died a few weeks later as a result of his head injuries.

John Graziano survived a serious accident when he was a passenger in a car driven by Nick Bollea, Hulk Hogan's son. He now requires constant care and is confined to a wheelchair.

"I don't know why this is happening to my family, I don't know why this is happening to my boys," he said, wiping away tears.

Graziano has started journaling and taking life-mapping classes in prison. Lawtey Correctional Institution is a faith-based prison in Raiford designed to help build character. Graziano says he now realizes his failures.

"It started with me not being the husband and father I should have been, really."

But that's where it stops. While Graziano admits failures as a father and husband, he denies ever plotting to hurt Debra Graziano.

"My wife is a wonderful woman, she's a wonderful mother. I didn't want her dead; I love my wife and still do to this day."

Graziano says he took a plea deal because he had little choice.

"People had their minds made up that I was guilty and I would have not won the case and wound up with 30 years."

Prosecutors theorized that killing his wife might have given Ed Graziano a bigger share of the settlement money with Hulk Hogan, whom the family sued after John's accident.

Graziano says that's not true and claims he was set up by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"They had a lot of money invested in it. They paid a confidential informant to basically lure me in, which we call entrapment, that I didn't want anything to do with."

The sheriff's office says Graziano was caught on videotape trying to hire the informant and pay him $2,100 and a pizza gift card to kill his wife. Ed acknowledges he tried to pay the informant, but says it wasn't to kill his wife. He insists the money was to make him go away.

The couple had a long history of martial problems and divorced January 18, 2012.

FOX 13 tried to reach Debra Graziano through her attorney, George Tregos, but he said she had no comment.

Graziano is appealing his case and hopes the three justices who hear it later this year will see it his way, because it's too hard for him to accept the next big date in his life -- October 24, 2018, his scheduled release.

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