Former Air Force cadet gets life in Texas teen's slaying
Jury foreman: Graham's confession 'key evidence'
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Web posted at: 9:08 p.m. EDT (2108 GMT)
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (CNN) -- Former Air Force Academy cadet David Graham was found guilty of capital murder Friday for conspiring with his one-time girlfriend to kill another teen- age girl to atone for a purported sexual fling.
Graham, 20, sighed slightly and swallowed hard as District Judge Don Leonard sentenced him to life in prison. His only comment was a curt "Yes, sir," when Leonard asked him if he understood his right to appeal.
Under Texas law, he won't be eligible for parole for 40 years. His attorney, Dan Cogdell, vowed to appeal.
"He's spending 40 calendar years in a cage somewhere. He's not a real happy camper. Neither am I," Cogdell told reporters.
The jury returned the verdict after more than eight hours of deliberation over two days. They had been given the option of convicting Graham on a lesser charge of murder or aggravated kidnapping.
Jury foreman William Wright said later that Graham's confession to the murder of 16-year-old Adrianne Jones -- which the defense claimed was a misguided attempt to protect his former girlfriend, Diane Zamora -- was "a key piece of evidence" that led to the guilty verdict.
"David, every evening I remember my daughter. And all I can think about was her fear, her tears and her realization that you betrayed her trust," Linda Sue Jones told Graham. "I hope that everyone remembers our daughter with the integrity that she has, because she's still among us.
"I remember her eyes with joy -- you will [remember] with fear," she said.
Glowering at the defendant, the victim's brother, Justin Jones, said, "I have no hate for you. I can't hate an animal, for they're ignorant, dumb and blind."
But another brother, Scott Jones, his voice breaking with emotion, said, "He ruined so many lives, so many families, and unlike my brother, I can hate an animal. I can hate David Graham."
Several jurors wiped tears from their eyes as they listened to the statements.
"That was tough for everybody to take," Wright said. "To observe someone else's misery is tough to take."
Jones' body was found in December 1995 near a lake in Grand Prairie, a city near Fort Worth. The trial was moved to New Braunfels, near San Antonio, because of pretrial publicity.
Prosecutors say Graham lured Jones into a car, in which Zamora was waiting, and drove to a remote area where Zamora hit Jones over the head and Graham then shot her.
Prosecutors contend that the murder was Graham's way of proving his love for Zamora, after telling her that he had had sex with Jones after a high school track meet.
Trial witnesses described the relationship between Graham and Zamora -- which began in August 1995 when both were high school seniors -- as obsessive and all-consuming.
After high school, when he went off to the Air Force Academy in Colorado and she went to the Naval Academy in Maryland, they wrote each other letters every day.
The slaying went unsolved until the summer of 1996 when Zamora confessed to a roommate, who alerted authorities. When Graham was questioned, he confessed.
"I just pointed and shot," Graham wrote in a statement given to police. "When this precious relationship that we had was damaged by my thoughtless actions, the only thing that could satisfy her womanly vengeance was the life of the one that had, for an instant, taken her place."
During the trial, Graham's defense team contended that Zamora acted alone in killing Jones and that Graham had confessed out of love. They also attacked the quality of the police investigation.
But despite Cogdell's assertion that Graham was not present when Jones was killed, he never offered an alibi for his client.
Zamora was convicted of capital murder in February and sentenced to life in prison. She is appealing that conviction and refused to testify at Graham's trial, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Her lawyer, John Linebarger, said her appeal will be based in part on testimony during Graham's trial casting doubt on whether he and Jones actually ever had sex, as prosecutors claimed during her trial.
At the request of the Jones family, prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against either Graham or Zamora.
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