updated 3/15/2009 5:50:03 PM ET 2009-03-15T21:50:03

An elderly Arlington man has returned to the United States after spending 65 days in a prison in Mexicali, Mexico.

Family members of 88-eight-year-old Edward Chrisman, a veteran of World War II, reported he was freed Saturday. They had feared he wouldn't survive the ordeal, The Herald newspaper reported.

The family said Chrisman was released from prison Saturday morning, but was held up at the border for five hours before he was allowed to cross into to the U.S. His family immediately checked him into a Yuma, Arizona, hospital. Chrisman appeared to develop pneumonia while being held in Mexico.

A Mexican judge approved Chrisman's release nearly two weeks ago, but prison officials wouldn't release him until paperwork made its way through the system.

Family maintains innocence
Chrisman was wintering in Yuma when he decided to take a quick trip across the border with his grandson Jan. 8. Police arrested both men, alleging they tried to pay young girls to pose nude for photos. The family maintains both men are innocent.

Chrisman's grandson will remain in custody awaiting trial.

"We are ecstatic," Marix Saxton, Chrisman's daughter told The Herald. "I broke out crying when I found out. We just can't wait to get down to him and grab him."

Saxton said her grandfather had other priorities before he went into the hospital at Yuma.

"The first thing he said was, 'I want a big fat cheeseburger,'" Saxton said. "He wanted to go home and take a hot shower and go to sleep in his own bed."

Chrisman's family was told the Mexican judge's ruling means he won't not be required to return to Mexico at some future date to address the allegations that put him behind bars in the first place.

The Arlington community has followed the Chrismans' plight closely. Dozens of friends, family and neighbors attended a breakfast Saturday to support the family.

Mary Green of Arlington said she was "devastated" when she read that "Chrisman didn't even have a mattress to sleep on in the Mexican prison.

J.Y. Dycus of Arlington said a Mexican prison was the last place he expected Chrisman to end up. "He is one of the straightest guys I know," Dycus said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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