Suspect in 2009 Centennial murder of Andrew Graham takes plea deal

With end of Allen Ford's case, one defendant remains in case of fatal shooting

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After four suspects were arrested in January 2017 in connection with the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old Centennial man a decade ago, only one defendant remains now that Allen Deshawn Ford has taken a plea agreement, according to online court records.

“I realize he did not take this plea for my benefit,” said the mother of victim Andrew Graham, Cyndi Gelston Graham, who was in the courtroom Nov. 7. “But I thanked him anyway for sparing me having to sit through a three-week trial, and he acknowledged me.”

Ford, Clarissa Jae Lockhart, Kendall Adam Austin and Joseph Martin were arrested after a grand jury in Arapahoe County, called in 2016, indicted the four in connection with Andrew Graham's death.

Graham was walking home from a light rail station near the Willow Creek area of Centennial shortly before midnight on Nov. 5, 2009. In the early morning hours of Nov. 6, he was fatally shot, according to authorities. He was found at about 5:30 a.m. on East Phillips Place, a few blocks from home.

Graham's body was found about two blocks south of some of his belongings. Credit cards and a cellphone were found in his bag there, according to authorities. His money was still in his wallet when his body was discovered.

Lockhart, Austin and Ford were charged with first-degree felony murder, as well as conspiracy under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, in the case, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office. Ford and Austin were also accused of committing a pattern of racketeering under that law, which is referred to as COCCA.

Martin pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and in February 2018 received a 10-year prison sentence and three years of mandatory parole, according to the state judicial branch.

The DA's office moved to dismiss all of the charges against Austin on Oct. 2 after deciding it no longer had “a reasonable likelihood of success at trial,” according to Austin's defense attorney. The DA's office also cited a general lack of forensic evidence against him, according to the defense.

Lockhart has a pretrial conference set for Feb. 27, according to the DA's office.

Ford's defense attorney and a spokesperson for the DA's office said they could not confirm the details of Ford's Nov. 7 plea agreement, including to what charge he pleaded guilty. His sentencing is set for Jan. 17.

None of the four defendants are allegedly the person who shot Graham, according to defense attorneys for Austin.

The DA's office said it could not confirm details of the cases against any of the suspects with Colorado Community Media, citing that the cases are still suppressed — no documents or further information are available for release. The 18th Judicial District includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.

A previous grand jury called in 2011 gave up on the case after about 18 months that saw testimony from 63 witnesses and more than 100 exhibits of evidence, stating that it lacked enough evidence to recommend trial.

Graham was a recent University of Colorado graduate who planned to pursue graduate studies in math and civil engineering.

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