PHOENIX — The man who served nearly 50 years in prison for killing two Sierra Vista girls in 1967 had his home-arrest status revoked Wednesday after the state clemency board determined he violated his release by having a young girl in his apartment.
William L. Huff was a teenager when he was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for one of the murders. The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency granted him home-arrest in December 2015, subject to electronic monitoring and supervision by a parole officer.
The clemency board’s home-arrest decision meant Huff was serving his time outside prison walls. Although the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) parole office supervised Huff, he wasn’t on parole and remained an inmate.
Huff, now 67, was a 16-year-old Buena High School student when arrested for the murders of Cindy Clelland, 7, and Jenelle Haines, 6. He was prosecuted for Haines’ death through federal court, which resulted in a 25-year sentence and lifetime federal probation.
Clelland’s death was prosecuted in state court, where a plea deal called for a 40-years-to-life sentence. Huff became eligible for parole in 2008, but the clemency board denied his applications until 2015 when they approved home-arrest.
But Huff was returned to prison on a temporary basis in November after a parole officer found an 8-year-old girl in his residence.
Although the girl’s parents and Huff’s fiancée were also in the one-bedroom apartment, Huff was accused of violating a verbal directive to have no contact with minors unless he obtained a parole officer’s prior approval.
Wednesday’s hearing was to determine whether a violation occurred, and if so, whether Huff should be reinstated to home-arrest. He took take part in the proceedings via video from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson.
Michael Kielsky, Huff’s attorney, argued the written rules that Huff signed specify he cannot be around a minor unless a parent or guardian is present “and/or” he has prior authorization from a parole officer.
The attorney pointed to testimony that both of the girls’ parents were present at all times, and therefore Huff hadn’t violated any rule.
However, two parole officers testified Huff received verbal directives that he wasn’t to have contact with minors without approval and knew it was the main rule of his home-arrest.
During the hearing, Huff’s fiancée caught the board and ADC officials off-guard when she testified there had also been a 13-year-old boy in the apartment during the parole officer’s visit. There had been no mention of a second child in the reports or prior testimony.
The board voted that Huff violated the conditions of his release, then heard conflicting opinions about whether home-arrest should be reinstated.
Melissa Haines, niece of Jenelle Haines, reminded the board the two girls were found undressed and severely beaten. However, Huff’s sister told the board they need not be concerned about him.
“He’s not going to kill anybody,” she said. “He's not going to hurt anybody.”
Board chairman Dr. C.T. Wright noted Huff “violated” the chance he was given for freedom. The board then unanimously revoked his home-arrest and ordered Huff back to ADC custody, from where he can reapply for release in about one year.
On Friday, prison spokesman Wilder addressed reports that Huff was in Sierra Vista on numerous occasions during his home-arrest, despite an order to stay out of the area and being under 24/7 electronic monitoring.
“Our staff has reviewed [the rumors] and inform me that Huff did not, to our knowledge, ever go near Sierra Vista,” Wilder told the Herald/Review. “He was closely monitored.”