(CBS4) – Allen Ford, one of five original suspects in the 2009 murder of Andrew Graham, pleaded guilty Thursday morning in Arapahoe County District Court and is expected to cooperate with prosecutors who are still trying to resolve the decade-old murder case. Graham’s mother, Cyndi Gelston-Graham, was in the courtroom for the plea change and said afterwards “This is a very positive step in the right direction.”
Gelston-Graham went on to say she was glad Ford was “taking accountability” for his role in her son’s death.
Andrew Graham, 23 , was shot and killed in 2009 as he returned to his home in Centennial from an RTD light rail station. His body was found the next morning. Investigators believe Graham, who was shot in the back, was a robbery target.
Investigators zeroed in on five suspects who they believed were involved in Graham’s death: Ford, Kendall Austin, Joseph Martin, Clarissa Lockhart and Terrell Jones. Police believe Jones was the actual shooter but he has never been arrested or charged. The other four were arrested and jailed in January of 2017 following grand jury indictments. The four were indicted on felony murder, conspiracy and racketeering charges as prosecutors theorized they were present for the robbery and shooting.
Joseph Martin agreed to a plea bargain in the case in 2018 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Charges against Austin were dropped last month due to a lack of forensic evidence and other factors.
Clarissa Lockhart is still facing charges, but prosecutors’ ultimate goal appears to be filing charges and bringing Terrell Jones, the suspected triggerman, to trial. Ford’s plea change gets them one step closer. In exchange to pleading guilty to one count of racketeering, the other two counts against him were dropped and he has agreed to a 20 year prison term when he is sentenced in January. He is also expected to assist prosecutors and police in their effort to bring a case against Jones.
Prosecutor Chris Wilcox declined to discuss Thursday’s turn of events or its implications. One of Jones’ attorneys, Kevin Pauly, also told CBS4 he could not comment on the new guilty plea.
In court, Ford, 28, provided brief answers to Judge Michael Spear’s questions about his guilty plea. Ford said he was “very satisfied” with his attorneys and indicated he understood the meaning of his guilty plea.
“I’m really thankful,” said Gelston-Graham, who said Ford pleading guilty provides a “small measure of justice for my son.”