Years after the fatal shooting of Andrew Graham in Centennial, investigators returned to one of the people suspected of having participated in a planned robbery that ended in Graham’s death.
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One of the investigators picked up a large law book, opened it and read to one of the suspects, Clarissa Lockhart, explaining a law that would allow law enforcement to charge her for murder, according to court testimony.
They didn’t think she pulled the trigger, but they wanted her to provide information on what happened. Lockhart maintained she was not involved in the incident, she testified.
But the conversation intensified when one official placed a piece of paper in front of her — a warrant for her arrest for first-degree murder — and said that if she agreed to talk, they would shred that warrant, but if she didn’t agree, law enforcement would get a judge to sign the warrant, she testified.
The official told her that if she cooperated, she would get the case off her back, she testified.
So she agreed, and they gave her the unsigned arrest warrant and walked with her to an office to put it into the shredder, she testified.
She didn’t think authorities would simply bring a new arrest warrant and put her in jail.
Graham, a University of Colorado graduate who had plans for grad school, was found fatally shot about 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2009, in the front yard of a home in the Willow Creek neighborhood of Centennial near County Line Road and Yosemite Street.
In a case that doesn’t appear to rely on physical evidence, the varying stories of people called as witnesses have taken center stage.
The trial of the man who authorities say pulled the trigger, Terrell Jones, in Arapahoe County District Court started in early May and could run until June 2, according to the state judicial branch website.
Here’s a look at some key moments from the third week of the trial.
Investigators asked Lockhart whether she would be willing to go on a drive and point out anything familiar in the area of the crime scene, and after that, they’d go to Buffalo Wild Wings and have some food, she testified.
Lockhart looked around but still generally maintained that the area did not look familiar, she testified.
Then they went to Buffalo Wild Wings, and she never heard from the investigators again, she testified. (One of the investigators in court acknowledged going to Buffalo Wild Wings with Lockhart.)
Asked why she would tell investigators she was involved if she wasn’t, Lockhart said: “Because I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I told them the truth the first several times and it wasn’t being heard.” They wanted her to say Jones was the shooter, she testified.
Lockhart took what’s called a plea deal, pleading guilty to one alleged aspect of the crime rather than face going to prison potentially for the rest of her life, she testified. She pleaded guilty to a pattern of racketeering, and in return, the local district attorney’s office dismissed a count related to murder, Jones’ defense noted.
She said she made different statements over the years, saying she acknowledged she was present and witnessed Graham’s death in the past.
“The things that I did say to them were made up, and I feel like I addressed that right after that after the interrogation,” Lockhart said earlier on the witness stand.
Authorities at one point had shown Lockhart a flyer showing Graham’s face and listing information about the crime. She didn’t know about anything she read about in that flyer until she read the flyer, she testified.
Lockhart at times was emotional during interviews with law enforcement as they continued to not believe her, according to recordings played in court.
Lockhart didn’t know the laws about murder, so she thought if she told a story where she was there at the scene but didn’t commit the crime, she would be OK legally, she testified.
Lockhart and others in the case were charged with first-degree felony murder. As it relates to this case, that’s a count that could be charged against anyone in a group that is allegedly involved in a serious crime in which a death occurs. The charge applied even if a particular member of the group is not believed to have directly caused the death.
In court, Allen Ford, another defendant in the case, widely denied aspects of his alleged involvement in the crime.
Authorities had told Ford that Jones and Lockhart put him as involved in the murder, the defense noted.
Defense attorneys played a clip of Ford where he told authorities: “I lied last time because I was getting thrown under the bus, so I threw somebody else under the bus … Lie on me, I’m going to lie on you.”
Ford had put himself as being involved in the crime but gave statements that were “inconsistent and changing,” the defense argued.
Defense attorneys played a clip where Ford, emotional and apparently in an interrogation room, said: “I didn’t do nothing. They put me in something I didn’t do … (this is) something I don’t even know about.”
Ford went as far as to claim he didn’t recognize himself in videos shown in court during the trial. He also said he didn’t recognize a photo of Jones shown in court even though another photo showed Ford and Jones together, apparently in 2007. Asked whether he knows who either of those people are in the photo, he simply said: “No.”
Ford was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Jan. 17, 2020, after taking a plea deal, pleading guilty to racketeering, according to online court records. The felony murder and conspiracy charges were dismissed.
Ford testified at the trial based on the plea deal. He took a deal because he “didn’t want to take the risk of trial,” he testified.
On the witness stand Ford said, multiple times, “I wasn’t there” at the scene.
But the prosecution appeared to argue Ford’s denials of knowledge of the crime stemmed from suspects threatening him.
The prosecution played a clip where Ford had said: “They said you tell anybody, man, we’ll kill you, man … I don’t want to be killed, man.”
The second week of the trial and earlier details, including outcomes for defendants other than Jones, are covered in Colorado Community Media’s previous stories at tinyurl.com/TrialWeek2 and tinyurl.com/TrialWeek1.
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