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US

Texas cadet murder case goes to jury

Graham
Graham  

Defense argues reasonable doubt in closing arguments

July 23, 1998
Web posted at: 9:27 p.m. EDT (2127 GMT)

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (CNN) -- A Texas jury has begun deliberating the fate of David Graham, a former Air Force Academy cadet accused of conspiring with his then-fiancee to murder a teen-age girl to atone for a sexual encounter.

Jurors got the case Thursday afternoon after closing arguments. If convicted of the capital murder charge, Graham, 20, faces life in prison.

However, over prosecutors' objections, District Judge Don Leonard agreed to allow them to find Graham guilty of a lesser murder charge or aggravated kidnapping, rather than capital murder.

Holding up a picture of the victim, Adrianne Jones, and the pistol used to kill her, prosecutor Michele Hartmann called Graham a "killer and executioner."

Hartmann
Hartmann  

"You know that she was the sacrifice on the altar of David Graham's ego, his cowardice, his utter lack of humanity," Hartmann said.

But defense attorney Dan Cogdell pinned the blame for the December 4, 1995, murder on Graham's then-fiancee, Diane Zamora, saying prosecutors were "not even close" to proving the murder charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

He derided the police investigation into the murder as "a confederacy of dunces," and said, "We've seen a prosecution conducted like you or I might go to Wal-Mart."

"Every day they wanted you to buy something else."

"I'm asking you to do nothing more or nothing less than to follow the law," Cogdell said. "I'm asking you to find a reasonable doubt."

Zamora
Zamora  

Graham, Zamora's eyes meet

Graham is accused of shooting Jones, 16, twice in the head to prove his love for Zamora, after allegedly telling Zamora he had sex with Jones after a high school track meet.

Zamora, a former midshipman at the Naval Academy, was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to life in prison for her part in Jones' murder. She is appealing her conviction, and on Wednesday refused to testify in Graham's trial, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination.

Zamora, brought in from state prison, gazed sadly Wednesday at her former boyfriend. It was the first time the two had seen each other since a hearing last August to determine if they should face trial separately. Several times, Zamora looked at Graham, who leaned back in his chair and smiled.

Graham's defense team had hoped that Zamora's testimony would prove their contention that she alone killed Jones. After her refusal to testify, the defense rested without calling a single witness to testify before the seven-man, five-woman jury.

"Mr. Graham, your honor, stands on his presumption of innocence and rests," Cogdell told Leonard. Outside the courtroom, he explained, "I decided the best way to keep the jury focused on the weakness of the state's case was to rest right behind them."

Cogdell
Cogdell  

'The bloom has fallen off the rose'

Prosecutors allege that Zamora became angry because of Graham's liaison with Jones. The pair were accused of luring Jones into a car, then driving to a lake near Grand Prairie where Zamora hit her over the head and Graham shot her to death.

Witnesses described their relationship, which started in August 1995 when they were both high school seniors, as obsessive and all-consuming. After high school, when they were at their respective service academies, they wrote each other letters every day.

However, Zamora's attorney, John Linebarger, said Zamora no longer loves Graham. "I think the bloom has fallen off the rose," he said.

The murder of Jones went unsolved for months until Zamora told her roommate at the Naval Academy about it in the summer of 1996. The roommate told authorities, and, under questioning, Graham confessed.

Graham's confession was key evidence

His confession was central to the state's case. In the document, Graham said he and Zamora planned to break Jones' neck "and sink her to the bottom of the lake" but, when the scheme didn't work as intended, he shot Jones twice.

According to trial testimony, the gun used to kill Jones was later found in Graham's father's attic.

But in his closing argument, Cogdell, who maintained during the trial that Graham confessed to protect Zamora, said crime-scene evidence casts doubt on whether two people were in the car with Jones on the night she died.

The trial was moved from the Fort Worth area, where the murder occurred, to New Braunfels, 30 miles northeast of San Antonio, because of pretrial publicity.

Correspondent Charles Zewe and Reuters contributed to this report.
 
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