Given that former Air Force "Academy cadet David Graham had signed a confession revealing in grisly detail how he and his fiancée, Diane Zamora, clubbed, then shot and killed Adrianne Jones, 16, outside her hometown of Mansfield, Texas, in December 1995, his defense had a certain bravura appeal. Graham, 20, "was not even there," his attorney Dan Cogdell told the jury in his opening statement, claiming his love-blinded client had fabricated a confession to protect Zamora, a former Naval Academy midshipman. "His only crime," said Cogdell, "is trying to cover up for a terrible woman's vengeance."
The jury took 8½ hours and just a single vote to reject Graham's claim of innocence. Like Zamora, 20, found guilty in February, Graham was sentenced automatically to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 40 years. New evidence offered during the trial only made the killing seem more senselessly tragic. A friend of Jones's testified that, despite what Graham had told Zamora, infuriating her, the friend had been with Jones the night Graham claimed he'd had sex with her. If true, that meant Zamora's lethal jealousy was fired over nothing. "He killed her just because he wouldn't tell Diane Zamora the truth," concluded prosecutor Mike Parrish.
Still, the verdict brought a welcome end to a case that cast two supposedly model teens as the villains and spawned two books, a made-for-TV movie and intense media interest in Mansfield, outside Fort Worth. "It's now known as a hick town full of murderers," says Jones's friend Jessica Bloodgood, 18. "I'm totally disgusted with David Graham and Diane Zamora." At the urging of Linda Jones, the victim's mother, the town plans to build a park in memory of victims like Adrianne. Jones's father, Bill, a mechanic, thanked the jury after the verdict. "We are free," he said.
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