|Born||Diane Michelle Zamora
January 21, 1978
|Occupation||Former US Navy midshipman|
|Criminal charge||Capital murder|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole|
Diane Michelle Zamora (born January 21, 1978), a former United States Naval Academy midshipman and her ex-fiancé, David Graham, were convicted for the December 4, 1995 murder of Adrianne Jessica Jones. In their separate confessions to police, they describe the events similarly. Zamora believed Jones to be a romantic rival for Graham; he had claimed that he had given her a ride home on November 4, 1995 and had sex with her. Zamora became enraged and asked Graham to kill her. In the early morning of December 4, he picked up Jones in Zamora's car, while she hid in the hatchback. They went to a remote location, got into a struggle. Zamora hit Jones over the head with weights, and Graham shot her twice after she had broken away from them.
Following the murder, Graham was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and Zamora enrolled in the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Zamora confessed the crime to her roommates at the academy, which ultimately led to the notification of the local police in Texas. Both Zamora and Graham were arrested on September 6, 1996. There were separate trials, which resulted in guilty verdicts. During Graham's trial, it was revealed that he had left the November 4 meet before Wendy Bartlett, Adrianne Jones, and Coach Ann Burke. They were left behind to stow equipment and Bartlett drove Jones home. This meant that Graham did not likely have sex with Jones. Both are serving life sentences for the murder. Zamora's attorney filed an appeal in 2005 stating that prosecution withheld the information that Graham did not give Jones a ride after the meet, and probably did not have sex with Jones.
Murder of Adrianne Jones
Graham and Zamora met at a Civil Air Patrol meeting at Spinks Airport, nearly Crowley, Texas, when they were 14-year-olds. Zamora said she wanted to be an astronaut and Graham wanted to be a pilot. They began dating about four years later, in August 1995, when they were both high school honor students. Zamora was a student at Crowley High School, and Graham was a student at Mansfield High School. About a month after they began dating, Zamora and Graham announced their engagement to their families. They planned to marry after their scheduled college graduations.
Graham went to school with Adrianne Jones, who was on the cross-country track team with him. Jones, whose nickname was A.J., was also an honor student. She had plans to attend Texas A&M University and was interested in becoming a behavioral analyst. Her family included her mother, Linda; her father, Bill; and two brothers. Graham confessed that on November 4, he had given Jones a ride home from a regional meet and that during the ride, he stopped the car and they had sex. During her confession to police, Zamora said that she believed it was this night when Graham came over to her house, carrying a stuffed animal and having "this look in his eyes that was horrible, he looked so scared." (It was revealed during Graham's trial that he did not give Jones a ride home that night.)
In Zamora's confession, she said that about a month later she questioned Graham about other girls, including Jones. They got into a fight when he pressed her to study for the SATs. He then said that he had not just had sex with her, but also had sex with Jones. Zamora began screaming and hitting her head against the floor. While still banging her head on the floor, she screamed, "kill her, kill her." She said that beginning December 2, they tried to get in touch with Jones and Graham continually tried to calm her down. Graham said in 2008 that Zamora told him that she would kill herself or leave him if he did not kill Jones.
Although they were both goal-driven, intelligent people, Zamora[a] and Graham[b] each had issues "beneath the surface" that were reflected at times in their behavior. Court TV said that, "from a surface view, no one would have expected that Diane and David would become a lethal combination. Although they both continued to advance in the military, their single-minded quests for recognition covered up deep-rooted problems leading to obsession and murder."
According to Graham, he and Zamora planned to kill her and put her in the lake, with weights tied to her body. He called Jones on the night of December 3, 1995, and arranged to drive her out to Joe Pool Lake, while Zamora hid in the hatchback of her car. Zamora said in her confession that they arrived at a spot by the lake after 12:30 a.m. on December 4. She said that when Graham stopped the car, she came out from the hatchback and asked Jones if she had sex with Graham. She claimed Jones said that she had, but didn't enjoy it because she felt guilty. Zamora became enraged. Zamora and Graham both said in their confessions that they got into a struggle, Zamora hit Jones on the head with the weights, and Jones fought back. She got out of the car and ran into a field. Graham shot her twice with a 9mm handgun after she fell down. According to her confession, when he returned to the car, Graham said, "I love you, baby, do you believe me now." Shortly thereafter, Zamora asked what they had just done, to which David responded, "I don't know, I can't believe we just did that." They cleaned up and/or disposed of their bloody clothes and went home. Zamora and Graham both said that she then cleaned up her car that had blood in it, at the time Graham was vomiting. She wrote in her calendar for the day, "Adrianne 1:38 a.m."
The investigation and arrest
Jones' body was found in an open field on Seeton Road, near Joe Pool Lake, on December 4. She was brought in to the medical examiner as a Jane Doe. It did not appear likely that she was sexually assaulted, but it was clear that she had been shot and had "blunt traumatic head injury". The shooter stood within a few feet of Jones when they pulled the trigger. The second bullet was fired when the killer stood right over her, hitting her right between the eyes. Her body was positively identified to be the missing Adrianne Jones when the medical examiner received a photograph of Jones.
After the murder, Graham went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and Zamora enrolled in the Naval Academy in Annapolis. While there, she confessed to the murder to her two roommates at the academy, who contacted the authorities at the academy. The Grand Prairie police were then contacted, and Zamora and Graham were arrested for capital murder on September 6, 1996. They were held in the Tarrant County Jail.
Graham was interrogated for 30 hours, during which he confessed killing Jones. Zamora also confessed to the murder during her interrogation by the police. The key details of the event were similar, both said that Jones was killed because Graham had sex with her, she was taken to a remote lake, Jones was hit over the head by Zamora and shot twice by Graham.
Both later recanted their confessions. Graham said that he was not guilty of killing Jones, but helped cover up the murder, which he claimed Zamora committed by herself. Zamora claimed that Graham committed the murder by himself. A 9mm handgun, alleged to be the murder weapon, was found in the Grahams' attic, which could be reached through David Graham's bedroom.
The police had investigated the case for nine months. Law enforcement officials associated with the case have stated that the sexual encounter between Graham and Jones did not actually happen, but was invented by Graham. Sgt. Alan Patton, of the Grand Prairie Police Department, stated: "For those who don't remember, this was a totally brutal, unnecessary murder. David had lied to Diane about an alleged sexual tryst that never happened with Adrianne Jones. If he had said, 'I was just kidding, I was just trying to make you jealous', Adrianne Jones would still be alive today." However, Graham has since admitted that his original confession was accurate and the only reason he lied about the sexual encounter not happening was because of his defense lawyer's advice.
Zamora's two-week trial began in February 1998 in Fort Worth with Judge Joe Drago presiding. Linda Jones, Adrianne's mother, asked that the death penalty be removed as a sentencing option from both trials.
During the trial, Zamora admitted to being at the scene of the crime, but denied participating in the killing of Jones. The Naval Academy cadets, to whom Zamora confessed, and another witness stated that she showed no remorse over Jones' death.
The case received national media attention, providing Court TV with some of its highest ratings ever in its film coverage of the trial. Some of the interest centered on whether she was the submissive victim or the jealous driving force behind the murder. Under Texas law, murder is the intentional killing of another human being, while capital murder includes murder with an underlying felony of kidnapping, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction. In this case, the prosecutor believed that Jones was deceptively lured from her home by Graham asking her for a bogus date, or she would not have been in the car. Moreover, the couple committed obstruction when Zamora allegedly ordered Graham to stalk Jones into the field and to shoot her so that she could not tell the authorities.
The jury was asked to deliberate on the charges of capital murder or the lesser charges of assault, kidnapping, or false imprisonment. On February 17, 1998, after more than six hours of deliberations over two days, the jury found Zamora guilty of capital murder in the death of Adrianne Jones. Because of the Jones family's request that prosecutors not seek the death penalty against her, Zamora received a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and would be eligible for parole after 40 years.
On July 24, 1998, after a separate trial, a jury found Graham guilty of capital murder. During the trial, Wendy Bartlett, also on the track team, and Coach Lee Ann Burke, stated that Bartlett was the one who drove Jones home after the meet on November 4, and that Graham had left earlier, leaving Jones and Bartlett to put away equipment from the meet. Graham never had sex with Jones. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment.
David Richards, Zamora's attorney, used the testimony from Bartlett and Burke as the basis of an appeal for Zamora. The petition, made in 2005, stated that the prosecution withheld this information during Zamora's trial. "From these witnesses, the state knew, and should have known, that the testimony it sponsored in support of a sexual encounter between Jones and Graham was probably false."
Zamora was transferred from a jail in Fort Worth, Texas to a state prison diagnostic unit in Gatesville, Texas in February 1998. She was then held at the Murray Unit. As of 2015[update], Zamora is incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice William P. Hobby Unit near Marlin.
Graham was held at the Ellis Unit near Huntsville, Texas after the trial. As of 2016[update], he is held at the Darrington Unit near Rosharon, Texas. He is currently enrolled at the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary's inmate seminary in order to become a pastor behind bars. In 2008, Graham said that his confession to the police was correct and expressed remorse for killing Jones. He also said that if he had it to do over again he would have pleaded guilty to murder.
Zamora got to know a fellow Texas prison inmate, Steven Mora, through the mail. He had committed auto theft, burglary, and theft, and he was in prison for threatening someone related to one of his cases. Although they never met in person, the two decided to get married and petitioned Bexar County for a marriage license in 2003. A wedding ceremony was performed on June 17, 2003. Zamora's mother and a male friend stood in for the imprisoned couple in the county's first proxy marriage, which was performed by a judge in San Antonio. They were divorced in, or by, 2008.
Zamora was interviewed by Stone Phillips on Dateline in a show broadcast in April 2007. Her appeals were exhausted, and with her lawyer's permission she took a polygraph test administered by Dateline. Her story was now that Graham and she had been breaking up, and that Graham was using the murder to "tie her to him". She noted that she obstructed justice by cleaning the car afterwards and was an accessory after the fact; however, Zamora pointed out that the jury had convicted her of intending to kill Jones, which she denied. When she took the polygraph, the administrator repeatedly told her to stop her exaggerated breathing, a counter-measure for such tests. He said that he believed he had enough to actually say that Zamora had failed the crucial question on whether she had intended to kill Jones. Two other independent polygraph administrators, who were not at the test, were contacted by Dateline and asked to review the results; they said that they could offer no opinion due to counter-measures. Zamora responded to Phillips that she was nervous and hyperventilating despite being told all the questions in advance and reviewing them with the administrator before the test.
- In 1996, Ellise Pierce of the Dallas Observer wrote that the crime "has become part of Mansfield teen folklore; kids obsess about the details of the crime as if they were unraveling a plot from The X-Files."
- Before the Zamora's trials began, the case was the subject of a 1997 made-for-television movie called Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder. Zamora was played by Holly Marie Combs.
- Two books were written about the case.
- A. W. Gray (1997). The Cadet Murder Case: A True Story of Teen Love and Deadly Revenge (Onyx True Crime). NAL. ISBN 978-0451408099.
- Meyer, Peter (April 1, 2011). Blind Love: The True Story Of The Texas Cadet Murder. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-4299-3802-0.
- The "Cold Case" first-season episode "Love Conquers Al" is based on this murder.
- Zamora was the daughter of a nurse who worked up to three jobs simultaneously to support her family. Her father did not work regularly as an electrician, and he was an adulterer, which created feelings of betrayal and trust issues for Zamora. Due to financial difficulties, the family lived with Zamora's grandmother and grandfather, who was a minister. The Mexican-American family was religious and strict, including about who she dated. As the oldest child, she had responsibilities for taking care of her siblings. Zamora decided upon a career in the military when she was in middle school. She studied to make good grades and became a member of the National Honor Society. She had plans to join the Naval Academy and wanted to become a mission's specialist for NASA. At times, she hated her life and cut herself to relieve stress.
- Graham was the youngest of three children. He was business-like and polite in his manner with others, addressing others as sir and ma'am in his responses to them. He had a military-style haircut. He became interested in flying during an air show in Brownsville, Texas when he was in the first grade, and joined the Civil Air Patrol when he was 12. Graham was a good student, in the top 5% of all of the Class of 2000 cadets, and in high school he was a member of the high school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Junior ROTC) program and track team. Even though some people saw him as the "perfect guy", he could be controlling and had a violent temper. His mother moved out of the family house due to her fear of him.
- Pierce, Ellise (October 17, 1996). "Love is a Killer". Dallas Observer.
- "The Texas Cadet Murder Case - Beneath the Surface". Crime Library. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Newton, Chris (February 18, 1998). "Zamora found guilty of capital murder". Abilene Reporter-News. AP. Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- "Diane Zamora's police confession". NBC News. 8 April 2007.
- "The Texas Cadet Murder Case - David's trial". Crime Library. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- AP staff (February 10, 2008). "Former Air Force cadet expresses remorse for 1995 slaying of teen". The Denver Post. AP.
- Brown, Chip (July 18, 1998). "Zamora's mother testifies". Abilene Reporter-News. AP. Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- "The Texas Cadet Murder Case - A Positive Identification". Crime Library. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Former Air Force cadet gets life in Texas teen's slaying". CNN. July 24, 1998.
- Abshire, Richard (April 7, 2007). "Zamora breaks silence - In interview, cadet killer says she feared lover planned to murder her". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1B.
- Kara Kovalchik (July 11, 2008). "Five murders and the movies they inspired". CNN. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Prosecutors withheld key evidence, ex-midshipman's lawyer says". Lubbock Avalanche Journal. AP. January 26, 2005. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Zamora transferred to prison unit". United Press International. February 23, 1998. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "The Texas Cadet Murder Case - Epilogue". Crime Library. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- ""Offender Information Detail Zamora, Diane". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
- "Famous Crimes: The Texas Cadet Murder case". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. December 4, 2007. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
- "Graham, David Christopher". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
- Bardwell, S.K. (March 13, 2003). "Inmates who never met say they want to marry".
- Schrock, Susan (May 23, 2003). "Inmates' marriage in Texas gains nod". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
- Stone Phillips (April 9, 2007). "Diane Zamora: 'I’m not a killer'". Dateline NBC.
- Hewitt, Bill (October 21, 1996). "Sealed in Blood". People. Vol. 46 no. 17. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015.
- Hollandsworth, Skip (December 1996). "The Killer Cadets". Texas Monthly. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015.
- Verhovek, Sam Howe (September 10, 1996). "A Tale of Love and Murder in a Small Town". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015.