Indictment offers closer look at 2009 Graham murder in Centennial

Document describes calculated tracking of man shot to death

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/16/20

After more than a decade since a Centennial man was found shot dead in a quiet suburban neighborhood, authorities in March arrested the man they allege is the shooter — and his case shed new light …

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Indictment offers closer look at 2009 Graham murder in Centennial

Document describes calculated tracking of man shot to death

Posted

After more than a decade since a Centennial man was found shot dead in a quiet suburban neighborhood, authorities in March arrested the man they allege is the shooter — and his case shed new light on the case that had been shrouded in mystery for years.

Soon after, the Arapahoe County District Court made public the January 2017 indictment that led to the arrest of four other co-suspects in the murder. The indictment lends a closer look at what led up to the shooting of 23-year-old Andrew Graham in November 2009.

Graham, a University of Colorado graduate who was headed to grad school, was found shot dead at about 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2009, in the front yard of a home in the Willow Creek neighborhood of Centennial near East County Line Road and South Yosemite Street, an area that sees little violent crime.

A few hours earlier, 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.

Statements to authorities from other suspects in the case going back to 2009 have pointed to Terrell O'Neil Jones as the shooter, according to a March 10 affidavit that an Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office investigator submitted to request a warrant for his arrest. Jones was arrested that day, KCNC-CBS4 reported. Jones was 16 years old at the time of the shooting.

Jones' four co-suspects — also teenagers at that time — were arrested in January 2017 after they were indicted by a grand jury.

Among the revelations in the indictment: The suspects had a method of robbing victims and distributing the proceeds to whoever had the least money in the group or who did the crime. According to what a suspect told authorities, Graham was followed on the RTD light rail to the area where the confrontation occurred, according to the indictment.

On those details and a few more, the indictment provides more insight than the arrest affidavit. An arrest affidavit is a document that lists the alleged facts surrounding an arrest. An indictment is a charge, or accusation, of a serious crime in cases brought by grand juries. Grand juries are sometimes used to decide whether authorities have enough evidence to charge a suspect.

As of press time, Jones was set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 26.

Here's a look at what the indictment adds to what is publicly known about the events that led to Graham's death.

Targeted and followed

Graham got a ride from his father to the light rail station near Dry Creek Road and Interstate 25 in the afternoon on Nov. 5, 2009, according to the March 10 affidavit. According to his father, Graham planned to ride the train to downtown Denver and transfer to a bus to Boulder to meet with a former roommate to discuss living with him again.

After eating with his then-current roommates at a Boulder restaurant, Graham got dropped off at a nearby Park-n-Ride location to catch a bus to Denver.

At about 11:40 p.m., video surveillance captured Graham riding the light rail and exiting at the station near Park Meadows mall in Lone Tree, near Centennial. Nearby parking lot surveillance footage shows him walking west through the lot and down County Line Road until he was out of sight on the recordings. He walked with a satchel that authorities later found. A police dog later tracked Graham's path a short distance into the Willow Creek neighborhood nearby, north of County Line, the affidavit said.

Joseph Martin, one of Jones' co-suspects who testified before the grand jury, said he and a group he was with saw Graham near the light rail and followed him to Park Meadows. It's unclear where they first saw Graham; the suspects commonly spent time in downtown Denver and planned to “probably head back downtown” after taking Graham's bag, according to the indictment. Martin was 17 at the time Graham was shot.

The group that followed Graham included Martin and Jones — and Allen Deshawn Ford, Clarissa Jae Lockhart and Kendall Adam Austin, Jones' other three co-suspects, according to Martin's account. Also in the group was another individual whom Martin did not recall, according to his account. Ford, Lockhart and Austin were 18 at the time.

Lockhart and Austin followed Graham on the light rail, and the rest followed in a vehicle, keeping contact with Lockhart and Austin by phone, according to Martin's account. Video surveillance showed a vehicle matching that vehicle's description in the Park Meadows parking lot around the time the light rail arrived at the nearby station, according to the indictment.

“The group in the truck waited, ready to 'hop out, take the bag, and go on that day,'” Martin said, according to the indictment.

“It was supposed to be just an average just grab-and-go, man, and one thing led to another,” Martin said, according to the document.

He described the confrontation with Graham as taking place near stores, with houses less than a mile away. Martin expected that Graham would just give them the bag, but Graham fought back, “which shocked him,” the indictment says. Graham had said “stop” to the group, the document adds.

Austin testified in an earlier 2011 grand jury that Ford told him that Jones pulled out a pistol and tried to rob Graham but Graham wouldn't let him, so Jones shot him, according to the affidavit.

Jones — identified in the indictment as “Testifying Witness #9” — hit Graham, and Graham dropped the bag and ran, the indictment says. Martin then saw Jones fire a gun, striking Graham in the back as he was running, according to the indictment. The group took his bag into the vehicle.

Before being dropped off at separate locations, the members of the group in the vehicle were upset with Jones for shooting Graham, but Jones didn't care, according to Martin's account.

“You all need to shut the f--- up and quit acting like some b----es,” Jones said, according to Martin's account.

Martin recalled crossing paths with Jones in jail in Denver in 2016, where Jones said, “Tell (police) you don't know s---,” according to Martin's account.

Lockhart in 2015 was interviewed by authorities and said she saw Graham with a backpack before he got off the light rail and that she followed him once he exited. Austin in 2016 told authorities in an interview that he was on the light rail with his cousin at the station near Park Meadows and that he first saw Lockhart, Ford and Jones where he exited the light rail.

Jones — who apparently first spoke to authorities in 2010 — has acknowledged to investigators that he knew the co-suspects but has denied involvement in Graham's death on multiple occasions.

He admitted to having a gun near the time of the shooting, according to the indictment. He indicated before the grand jury that Ford stole that gun from him at a party, the indictment says.

Despite the years it took to arrest Jones, the affidavit does not mention any physical evidence that points to any of the defendants.

Authorities completed numerous forensic tests on the evidence between 2009 and 2017, and there was no conclusive forensic testing that led to Jones or any other suspect.

Graham was killed by a single bullet wound to his back, and no bullet, bullet fragment or shell casing was located.

An 'enterprise'

The indictment for Lockhart, Ford, Austin and Martin was issued by a 2016 Arapahoe County grand jury. The four were arrested in January 2017 in connection with Graham's death. Judge Michael Spear, for the Arapahoe County District Court, ordered that the court file in the cases be unsuppressed in April after the prosecution requested him to do so.

A previous grand jury called in 2011 stated that it lacked enough evidence to recommend trial of any suspects in the case after about 18 months that saw testimony from 63 witnesses and more than 100 exhibits of evidence, including photos, transcripts and recordings.

Martin told authorities that in 2009, he was “bag-snatching” for money — he would take a purse and worked with a group of people he met in the downtown area, and they would collectively get two or three bags, the indictment says.

The general practice in the group was to share proceeds from a bag theft, and whoever had the least money or took the bag would get a larger share, the indictment says.

“It was understood that the same sharing of profit would be done after snatching the bag carried by Andrew Graham based on their regular practices,” the indictment says.

Ford, Lockhart, Austin, Martin and Jones were an “enterprise” that committed robbery for financial gain and the benefit of members of the group, usually targeting white people who were alone or in a small group, the indictment says.

Jones and three other suspects are African-American. One suspect, Martin, is listed as American Indian on the state Department of Corrections website.

Martin told authorities that the group saw Graham had a bag and thought he might have a laptop, according to the indictment and affidavit.

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