After more delays in recent months as attorneys said the coronavirus pandemic prevented them from gathering evidence to defend Terrell Jones, who is accused of fatally shooting a Centennial man in a …
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Besides alleged gunman Terrell O’Neil Jones, who was arrested in March, four other suspects were identified in the 2009 Centennial slaying of Andrew Graham. They allegedly acted as a group in attempting to rob Graham.
Allen Deshawn Ford, Clarissa Jae Lockhart, Kendall Adam Austin and Joseph Martin were arrested after a grand jury in Arapahoe County, called in 2016, indicted the four.
Lockhart, Austin and Ford originally were charged with first-degree felony murder, a count that can be charged against anyone in a group that is allegedly involved in a serious crime in which a death occurs. The charge applies even if a particular member of the group is not believed to have directly caused the death.
Lockhart, Austin and Ford also were charged with conspiracy and a pattern of racketeering — which generally relates to organized crime — under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, according to online court records and the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The codefendants’ outcomes were as follows:
• Ford was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Jan. 17, 2020, after taking a plea deal in November 2019, pleading guilty to racketeering, according to online court records. The felony murder and conspiracy charges were dismissed. His sentence includes five years of mandatory parole.
• Lockhart received a 10-year prison sentence on June 26, 2020, after she pleaded guilty on Feb. 27, 2020, to a racketeering charge. Her charges of conspiracy and felony murder were dismissed as part of her plea deal.
• Martin pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and in February 2018 received a 10-year prison sentence and three years of mandatory parole, according to the state judicial branch. His other charge of felony murder was dismissed, according to court records.
• The DA’s office moved to dismiss all of the charges against Austin in October 2019 after deciding it no longer had “a reasonable likelihood of success at trial,” according to Austin’s defense attorney.
After more delays in recent months as attorneys said the coronavirus pandemic prevented them from gathering evidence to defend Terrell Jones, who is accused of fatally shooting a Centennial man in a quiet neighborhood in 2009, the defendant now faces a trial that could last three weeks or longer.
“Given the age of this case and, at this point in time, the length of the witness list, we are asking for somewhere in the nature of three to four weeks,” said Evan Marcia Zuckerman, an attorney for Jones, in an April 26 court hearing.
Andrew Graham, a University of Colorado graduate who had plans for grad school, was found shot to death 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.
Jones entered a not-guilty plea at the hearing in Arapahoe County District Court. Jones was charged with first-degree murder after deliberation and first-degree felony murder, according to court records.
A count of first-degree felony murder can be charged against anyone in a group that is allegedly involved in a serious crime in which a death occurs. The charge applies even if a particular member of the group is not believed to have directly caused the death. Other defendants in the case have described a plot to rob Graham.
Defense attorneys had asked to postpone Jones’ arraignment — the hearing at which he would enter a plea — three times in recent months, on Dec. 11, Jan. 29 and March 12. The attorneys argued they were “hampered in our ability to meet with witnesses for investigation,” Zuckerman said, citing the barriers the pandemic has put on interactions. She argued that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility would help enable the investigation.
It remains unclear from the court proceedings what topics the investigation would entail, though Zuckerman said on April 26 that the investigation “is proceeding.”
Judge Joseph Whitfield scheduled the trial to begin on Oct. 13 and said it could last 3 1/2 weeks.
The court expects to hold motions hearings on Aug. 5 and Aug. 17. That’s a type of hearing where attorneys make requests to the court.
The defense anticipates the motions hearings will include a “fair amount of evidence and possible expert testimony,” Zuckerman said at the April hearing. It wasn’t clear what that would entail.
A few hours before Graham, 23, was found in November 2009 — just before midnight — video surveillance captured Graham riding an RTD light rail train and exiting at the station near Park Meadows mall in Lone Tree. Graham had been making living arrangements in Boulder that day and would often walk from the station to his parents’ house in nearby Willow Creek a couple miles away, his mother told Colorado Community Media at the time.
Jones was arrested in March 2020, KCNC-CBS4 reported. Jones was 16 years old at the time of the shooting.
A 2016 Arapahoe County grand jury indicted Clarissa Jae Lockhart, Allen Deshawn Ford, Kendall Adam Austin and Joseph Martin — also teenagers at the time of the shooting. The four were arrested in January 2017 in connection with Graham’s death.
The codefendants described a plot to rob Graham, whom they saw as “a white male who might have money,” according to the affidavit for Jones’ arrest. Jones and three other suspects are African-American. One suspect, Joseph Martin, is listed as American Indian on the state Department of Corrections website.
Ford, Lockhart and Austin had been linked to a string of race-motivated robberies and assaults in downtown Denver in 2009, according to the affidavit and court proceedings in the Graham case. Suspects in that rash of crimes told police they targeted white males because they assumed they had money and wouldn’t fight back or present a threat.
Lockhart and Austin pleaded guilty to attempted robbery in September 2009 incidents, and Ford pleaded guilty to a bias-motivated crime involving “bodily injury” and pleaded guilty to assault in August 2009 incidents, according to online court records.
In court on Oct. 27, Zuckerman, the defense attorney, hammered on what she argued are inconsistencies in the accounts of the four codefendants.
Investigators told the codefendants that their cooperation would influence whether arrest warrants for murder would come down against them, Zuckerman has said.
“Every suspect was threatened with a first-degree murder charge with an ... arrest warrant, and not surprisingly, it didn’t take long after those threats for the witnesses to give investigators what they wanted to hear, and what they wanted to hear is that Terrell Jones is the shooter,” Zuckerman argued at the time.
Jones — who apparently first spoke to authorities in 2010 — has acknowledged to investigators that he knew the codefendants but has denied involvement in Graham’s death.
He admitted to having a gun around the “2009 time frame,” according to the January 2017 indictment that led to the arrest of the other suspects. He indicated before a grand jury that Ford stole that gun from him at a party, the indictment says.
Chris Wilcox, the prosecutor and a chief deputy 18th Judicial District attorney, argued on Oct. 27 that “while the court heard voluminous statements about stories that changed,” Jones still may be found guilty by a jury. The 18th Judicial District includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.
The codefendants “aren’t just witnesses that came forward to make a statement,” Wilcox said. They are people who “put themselves as being involved in a crime.”
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