Palmyra murder-case convict freed
Wesley G. "Buck" Walker has been paroled from federal prison after serving 22 years of a life sentence for murder in a case that led to a best-selling novel and a TV miniseries.
Walker, 69, earned release from the U.S. Parole Commission in part because of advancing age and poor health. He was set free Tuesday from prison in Victorville, Calif., although he wasn't up for mandatory release until 2018.
Then known as Buck Duane Walker, the former Big Island marijuana farmer was convicted in the 1974 murder of a San Diego couple on Palmyra, a remote Pacific island just north of the equator and about 1,100 miles south of Honolulu.
Officials granted Walker release into Northern California, although the specific city was not named.
"I have no intention of returning to Hawai'i any time in the near future if I have any say-so," Walker wrote in a letter to Stephens Media.
Walker and his girlfriend, Stephanie Stearns, were arrested in Honolulu in 1974 after they returned from Palmyra in a yacht stolen from Malcolm "Mac" Graham and his wife, Eleanor "Muff" Graham.
Because no bodies were found, they were initially prosecuted only for the yacht theft and convicted in August 1975.
The fate of the Grahams was unknown until Muff Graham's charred bones were found on Palmyra in 1981. Malcolm Graham's body was never found.
Stearns was acquitted of the murders.
Her attorney, Vincent Bugliosi, and Bruce Henderson wrote a book about the case, "And the Sea Will Tell." It became a 1991 miniseries of the same name starring James Brolin as Graham.
Walker denies that he killed the couple.
He said the Grahams died because of a love triangle gone wrong in his self-published 895-page book titled "Palmyra: the True Story of an Island Tragedy."