Judge Allows Cadet’s Confession
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Former Air Force Academy cadet David Graham’s written confession in a teen-age girl’s slaying can be used against him at his capital murder trial, a state district judge ruled today.
Judge Don Leonard also granted a change of venue in Graham’s highly publicized case to New Braunfels.
The ruling on Graham’s statement, which he wrote after his arrest in Colorado, was a blow for defense attorneys who argued earlier today in an evidentiary hearing that law officers denied him the right to counsel.
``Graham repeatedly asked for a lawyer and was repeatedly denied _ or more accurately, talked out of _ a lawyer,″ defense attorney Dan Cogdell of Houston said during closing arguments in the four-day hearing.
``I understand that it is virtually impossible, unless you have gross misconduct by the police, to suppress a confession,″ he said.
Cogdell added that interrogators had threatened his client with the death penalty unless he confessed to the crime.
Leonard, who will preside over Graham’s trial in Comal County beginning July 6, said he will rule on admissibility of the defendant’s oral confessions after that date.
The judge moved the trial because of the difficulty in seating an impartial jury in Tarrant County following conviction of Graham’s ex-fiance, Diane Zamora, a former Naval Academy midshipman also accused of murdering a 16-year-old girl in December 1995.
Prosecutors said testimony shows Graham confessed with complete awareness of the consequences to the crime for which Ms. Zamora is already serving a life prison term.
``This young man played a game with the detectives from Grand Prairie,″ said Sylvia Mandel, a prosecutor. ``He found it humorous that four adult police officers could not figure out what it was that was used to bash in the head of Adrianne Jones.″
The final hearing witness testified that Graham told him he did not need a lawyer after his arrest at the Academy ``because I did it.″
Staff Sgt. Woodie Diamond, then a jailer at Fort Carson, Colo., was asked what Graham said he did.
``He said he killed a girl,″ Diamond replied.
Cogdell called no defense witnesses, saying prosecution witnesses provided enough information to block admission of the confessions.
Graham made the confessions during interrogation in September 1996 at a military jail. Cogdell says they were obtained illegally through threats and intimidation.
In the statement, Graham said he and former fiancee Diane Zamora planned to kill the Mansfield High School sophomore after Graham enraged Ms. Zamora by telling her he had sex with Miss Jones.
Graham said in his statement the two lured Miss Jones to a secluded southwest Grand Prairie road near Joe Pool Lake, where they confronted and attacked her.
Miss Jones reportedly was struck with a weight, then shot twice in the head after she tried to escape.
Ms. Zamora was convicted of capital murder in February for her role in the slaying of Ms. Jones, and was sentenced to life in prison.