By Brian Maass
ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned that an Arapahoe County grand jury has indicted four people for felony murder and other charges in connection with the 2009 cold case murder of Andrew Graham. All four people have been arrested and are in jail.
“We have never stopped working this,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff David Walcher, speaking to CBS4 about the arrests. “We want justice.”
Graham, 23, was gunned down late on the night of Nov. 5, 2009 as he was returning to his home in Arapahoe County from a nearby light rail station. He had been house hunting in Boulder where he was a graduate student at the University of Colorado.
Jailed in connection with the Graham murder are Clarissa Lockhart, 26, Allen Deshawn Ford, 26, Kendall Austin, 26, and Joseph Jamal Martin, 26.
In an unusual twist, the Arapahoe County grand jury indicted the four in January of 2017 and they were arrested within days of the indictments. However the cases were legally “suppressed,” and a judge issued a gag order in the case.
So news of the indictments and arrests was never made public until CBS4 learned of the grand jury indictments, arrests, and in one case, conviction.
Although all four defendants were charged with felony murder, conspiracy and a racketeering charge, the alleged shooter, Terrell Jones, has not been arrested or charged.
Investigators had long suspected Ford, Lockhart, Austin, Martin and Jones of being present when Graham was murdered, but prosecutors initially believed there was not enough evidence to arrest Jones or the other four.
The previous Arapahoe County District Attorney, Carol Chambers, convened a grand jury in 2011 to examine the case, but they concluded there was not enough evidence to charge anyone.
Chambers’ successor, George Brauchler, convened a new grand jury in 2016 and presented the case again, this time with different results.
Citing the judges gag order, a spokesperson for Brauchler told CBS4 he could not comment on the Graham arrests.
Graham’s mother, Cyndi Gelston-Graham, said she was “a little bit numb” when she learned of the grand jury indictments. “It won’t bring my son back, but it might be a measure of justice for him. I’m glad they will be held accountable in some small measure for what they’ve done.”
She went on to remember her only son as “a remarkable human being.”
Investigators believed Graham was targeted because he was white and the suspects thought he might have money. Several of the suspects were believed to have been involved in earlier attacks and robberies in downtown Denver targeting white pedestrians.
Walcher said his detectives “just never quit on this. This was a big deal. We have worked this case diligently and religiously.”
Although the four jailed suspects are not believed to have pulled the trigger, prosecutors are apparently hoping to pressure Ford, Lockhart, Austin and Martin to cooperate and lead to a murder case against Jones, who remains free.
One of the four – Joseph Martin – has already agreed to a plea bargain which saw the felony murder case dismissed in exchange for him pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
Martin- who faced a possible life sentence if convicted of felony murder – has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, a crime of violence. On Feb. 7, 2018 a judge sentenced Martin to 10 years in prison for his part in Graham’s death.
At the sentencing hearing, two Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputies testified Martin has cooperated with investigators, identified Jones as the shooter and agreed to testify against Jones.
Marv Brandt, an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s detective, said Martin “gave us information as to who was there, who the shooter was. He was very cooperative.” Brandt said that Martin “helped tremendously. He felt bad, he felt sorry.”
Another Arapahoe County investigator, Sgt. Bruce Peterson, testified Martin “showed some signs of remorse.” Peterson testified that the investigation suggested Jones was the actual triggerman and that Martin has agreed to testify against Jones.
Peterson testified the investigation has been ‘exhaustive.’
Attorneys for Lockhart, Ford and Austin all declined to comment on the ongoing cases.
However Michael Thompson, the defense attorney representing Kendall Austin, said at a recent hearing that statements his client had made to police were due to “very coercive police tactics.”
The judge in the cases has refused to lower bond for the defendants, which might have allowed them to get out of jail while their cases are pending.
Nearly nine years after her son’s murder, Gelston-Graham told CBS4 she is optimistic that everyone involved in her son’s death will be held accountable.
“It’s going to take time. It has to be done right. We only get one shot and I can wait.”