Murder of Adrianne Jones
January 21, 1978 |
|Occupation||Former US Navy midshipman|
|Criminal charge||Capital murder|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole|
Adrianne Jessica "A.J." Jones was murdered on December 4, 1995. Two people were convicted of the murder, Diane Michelle Zamora (born January 21, 1978), a former United States Naval Academy midshipman; and Zamora's boyfriend, David Graham. Both are serving life sentences for the murder. Zamora believed Jones to be a romantic rival for Graham.
Relationship of Zamora and Graham
Zamora was a student at Crowley High School while Graham was a student at Mansfield High School. Graham and Zamora began dating in August 1995 while in high school; only about a month later, they announced their engagement to their families. They planned to marry in 2000, shortly after their scheduled college graduations.
Around December 1, Graham confessed to Zamora that he had cheated on her with his Mansfield High School track team mate Adrianne Jones. An enraged Zamora allegedly demanded that Graham atone for his transgression by killing Jones.
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."
On December 4, 1995, Graham and Zamora carried out their plan. At around 10:30 pm, Graham called Jones and arranged a date. Unknown to her parents, Jones sneaked out of her house later that night to go out with Graham, who picked her up outside.
Graham drove to a deserted road near Grand Prairie, Texas. Zamora was hiding in the hatchback of the car. The original plan was that Zamora would come up behind a seated Jones and snap her neck. Graham would help her dump the body in a nearby lake. They planned to tie weights to Jones's body so that it would sink to the bottom of the lake.
The murder did not go according to plan. Zamora grabbed Jones and a struggle ensued. Graham tried to snap her neck by turning it as is done in movies, but found it to be ineffective. Zamora then hit Jones in the head with a weight, but Jones somehow managed to get out of the car and run away. In his confession, Graham stated that Zamora told him that he could not let Jones get away. He took his gun, tracked her down in the field, and shot her twice in the head. According to his confession, when he returned to the car, he and Zamora exchanged "I love you's". Then, Zamora asked Graham, "What have we done?", and he replied, "I don't know, I can't believe we just did that." They disposed of their bloody clothes and went home. Jones's body was discovered the next day.
After nine months of investigation, one of Diane's Annapolis classmates contacted authorities. According to the informant, Diane had admitted that she and David had murdered Adrianne. In September 1996, both Zamora and Graham were arrested for the murder.
Zamora's two-week trial began in February 1998 in Fort Worth with Judge Joe Drago III presiding. It 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.
Conviction and incarceration
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. She was transferred from a jail in Fort Worth, Texas to a state prison diagnostic unit in Gatesville, Texas in February 1998.
On July 24, 1998, after a separate trial, a jury found Graham guilty of capital murder. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment.
Before the couple's trials began, the case was the subject of a 1997 made-for-television movie called Swearing Allegiance (Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder). Zamora was played by Holly Marie Combs.
On June 17, 2003, Zamora married Steven Mora, another inmate in a Texas prison. A judge in San Antonio performed the wedding ceremony in which Zamora's mother and a male friend stood in for the imprisoned couple in the county's first proxy marriage. Earlier that year, Zamora and Mora had written to the county clerk's office, requesting a marriage license. KDFW-TV in Dallas obtained a copy of the marriage certificate — dated June 17 and issued by Bexar County — naming Zamora and Mora of San Antonio. They were divorced in 2010.
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."
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