Video: Texas cadet murder case

By Stone Phillips Anchor
Dateline NBC
updated 4/9/2007 1:38:17 AM ET 2007-04-09T05:38:17
TRANSCRIPT

This report aired April 8, on Dateline NBC.

Diane Zamora and David Graham were high school sweethearts and among the nation’s best and brightest— until they were convicted of murder.

The so-called “Texas Cadet” murder case was one of the most notorious crimes of the ‘90s. The teenagers went from military academy life to life sentences for a brutal killing they covered up for almost a year. 

There was never much doubt about Graham’s role: He pulled the trigger. But Zamora claims that while she witnessed the murder and helped hide it, she never set out to kill anyone.  And the confession she gave police?  She says there’s explanation for that too. 

Is she telling the truth?  Does her story hold up under questioning? How about a lie detector test?  Below is a transcript to the “Dateline” exclusive.

Stone Phillips, Dateline anchor: What do you want people to know about you?

Diane Zamora: That I’m not a killer and that I’m not some witch.  I’m not some evil-hearted person, not even close.

It was as close as you can get to Diane Zamora— the glass divider is almost as thick as the cloud of despair that seems to surround her. The teenager who once marched so proudly at one of the nation’s elite service academies is now 29 years old, serving a life sentence at a Texas prison. As a convicted murderer, she knows that no one wants to hear about goodness in her heart. 

Zamora: People out there don’t care about what kind of person you are.  They care about evidence.  That’s what I really want them to look at, and look at it a little closer.

What happened along a country road in Grand Prairie, Texas in the early morning hours of December 4th, 1995? Did Zamora and her boyfriend plan and carry out the murder of 16-year-old Adrianne Jones, just as they confessed?  Did Zamora demand the killing, in a jealous rage after Graham said he’d been unfaithful to her with the victim?    

In countless media reports and a made-for-TV movie, that’s how the story went.

At her 1997 trial, Zamora was convicted of capital murder, based largely on the confession she had given police.  Sergeant Allan Patton is the Grand Prairie police officer who arrested Zamora and took her statement.   

Sgt. Allan Patton: She said that the plan was to take Adrianne Jones out by the lake and to break her neck and to wipe her down and put her into Joe Poole Lake. And when Adrianne began resisting David’s attempt to break her neck or choke her, it infuriated her, that she was fighting with David.  And so she took a barbell from the floorboard and started hitting her in the back of the head with it. 

Phillips: She had missed several times and then finally landed a blow.

Sgt. Patton: Yes, sir. And that she told David, “You need to finish this.  We can’t stop here.”  And that David went over into the field and shot her with a pistol.

Shortly after confessing all that to police, Zamora claimed she’d lied. The jury didn’t believe her.

But a decade later, she still believes that testimony from the prosecution’s own witnesses proved her confession was false, that the government’s theory of the crime was flawed. She believes the story she told on the stand— the same one you’re about to hear in her first television interview— is the only one that she says fits the facts.

Phillips: What’s your version of what happened that night?

Zamora: It’s something I don’t like to talk about. And it’s something I hope I wouldn’t have to talk about it. Because it’s not something you want to remember.  It’s not something you want to relive. 

But reliving and retelling it is Zamora’s only hope of explaining away her own damning words.

Phillips: In your confession to police, you said that you told David to kill her.  “She’s not dead. Kill her.”

Zamora: I was lying. I also said I hit her in the head with a weight.  And we know that’s not true.

Zamora says to understand this twisted tale of how an attractive, athletic, fun-loving high school sophomore was murdered, you have to look at the whole sad story step by step, starting with the prosecution’s central claim—that while Graham fired the fatal shots with a semi-automatic pistol, it was Zamora who ordered him to kill her romantic rival. 

In her confession, Zamora told police, “I screamed at him, ‘kill her, kill her.’... He was just so scared that he wasn’t about to say no to me.... It seemed like him agreeing to do that was the only thing that calmed me down.” 

But it turns out investigators say Graham never had a tryst with Adrianne Jones. And Zamora’s jealous rage that was supposedly the motive? She says she suspected from the start that Graham had made up the story about Adrianne to punish her for trying to break up with him a month before the murder.

Phillips: You were breaking up?

Zamora: Yeah. And he sat  on the couch and looked at me and said, “I have something to tell you.”  And he told me he had cheated on me.  And I just started crying.  And I told him he was lying.  That was my first instinct.  He’s lying.  He’s trying to hurt me. And if he never slept with her, then how could he be trying to kill her to make up to me for sleeping with her?  It makes no sense.

But Zamora admits that because she couldn’t be 100 percent sure Graham hadn’t cheated on her, she joined him in concocting a plan.  David would call Adrianne and coax her into a late night rendezvous.

Zamora: He just said, “I wanna talk to you; and it’s about my girlfriend.”  And then I don’t know what she said.  And I heard him say, “Well, can’t you sneak out?”

Graham would take Adrianne for a ride, with Diane hiding in the trunk of her parents’ Mazda Protege. 

Phillips: Why did you go out there that night?

Zamora: I went out there to talk to her.

Phillips: Why?  About what?

Zamora: ‘Cause I didn’t believe he was telling me the truth. And maybe I just didn’t wanna believe it.  And now I know he was lying.

Phillips: But why go to those extremes?  I mean, Diane, you’re hiding in the trunk of a car.  You’re going out on this deserted lake.  I mean, it almost just doesn’t seem to square with a story that you just wanted to go out and talk to Adrianne about what had happened. 

Zamora: I didn’t know where it was gonna be.  That wasn’t my choice.  I didn’t know where we were go—where we were going.

Phillips: And what was the point of hiding in the trunk?

Zamora: He told me she wasn’t gonna wanna talk to me if I was there, which I can understand. If you slept with a guy’s girlfriend why are you gonna wanna get in a car with her there. And then when we were driving, somehow in the back of my mind, I knew something was wrong.

Zamora says the next thing she knew the car stopped. With Adrianne seated next to Graham up front, he reached into the back seat. 

Zamora: He pulled the hatch down.

Phillips: To let you out?

Zamora: To let me out, and it was really too dark to seevery much. I can’t even remember her face. I know I saw her eyes at one point.  But I can’t even remember that.

She may not have been able to see very well, but Zamora says she could feel the tension escalating. 

Phillips: What else do you remember?

Zamora: I remember I was kinda mad.  And I just got mad for a second there.  And I’m like, “Well—did you enjoy sleeping with my boyfriend?”  And she just goes, “No.  There was too much guilt.”

Was Adrianne suggesting there really had been a tryst?  Or perhaps playing along with David to make Diane jealous? Zamora says she wasn’t sure.

Zamora: But something about the way she said that, there was anger. There was anger back in her voice that kinda stunned me for a second and just left me a little speechless.  And I didn’t know what else to ask.  And before I could ask anything else, she had jumped up from her seat and was fighting with him.

During the struggle, Zamora admits pulling Adrianne’s hair, but couldn’t stop the frightened 16- year-old from getting away.

Zamora: And she had gone out the window.  And I had gone after her. And I didn’t get further than the hood of the car.  And David was like, “Get back in the car.  I’ll go get her.  Get back in the car.”

And I told him, “I’m not finished talking to her yet.”  And he said, he just kept telling me, “Get back in the car.”

Adrianne Jones, a pretty, popular cross-country runner was running away.  Whether she knew how much danger she was in isn’t clear. But Zamora claims she had no idea. 

Zamora: I didn’t go out there with the intention of killing her. And when he did that, I didn’t know what to do.

Phillips: If you didn’t go out there to kill her, Diane, why did you confess?

Diane Zamora insists she was there the night of the murder only to question, not to kill, Adrianne Jones.  But in the car that night there was a metal weight.  And Zamora herself gave investigators reason to believe that, wielding it from the backseat, she had battered her 16-year-old rival.        

Stone Phillips, Dateline anchor: In your confession to police, you said that you had hit her with a dumbbell, that you’d struck several times, you had missed her several times, then—and then finally landed one blow.

Diane Zamora: And that she had run out of the car with that blood on her head and across the street. 

According to Zamora, all those details from her confession were lies. And why would she have lied?  She would explain that later in the interview.    

Phillips: So you’re claiming she was not hit in the head when she left the car?

Zamora: No.

Phillips: Where are you saying she was first struck in the head?

Zamora: In the field.

Phillips: By David with the pistol?

Zamora: I saw the crook of his arm come down.  And then I heard the gun go off.

Phillips: But there was blood in the car.

Zamora: Yeah.

Phillips: On the passenger side door.

Zamora: Mm-hmm (affirms).

Phillips: Police believe she did bleed in the car, that she was struck in the car.

Zamora: Well, he brought her back to the car, I think to tease me or to taunt me. 

Zamora says she didn’t know if Adrianne had been hit by that first bullet fired outside the car. Again it was hard to see.  But she was unconscious and bleeding.

Zamora: I don’t know how alive she was when he brought her back. I just knew she looked dead to me. And I don’t know how long it took her to die. I saw her hair.  And I saw blood.  And I wasn’t really trying to get a good look at her.  I was terrified.  And I was crying. 

During her trial, prosecutors argued that Zamora did hit Adrianne with the weight.  But defense attorney John Linebarger pressed the medical examiner about the shape of Adrianne’s skull fracture and the object most likely to have caused it. 

(At trial) Attorney John Linebarger: Well let me ask you this, can you say for certain that any object that you’ve seen or examined is the object that inflicted that?

Medical examiner: I have seen one object that is consistent with those dimensions and that configuration, yes sir.

Attorney: Okay.  And what is that?

Medical examiner: It is the butt of a semi-automatic pistol.

And the cross-examination wasn’t done.   If, as prosecutors claimed, Adrianne had been hit with the weight inside the car, did the medical examiner really believe she would have been capable of climbing out the window and running away? 

Medical examiner: Looking at activity by persons who sustain significant head trauma like this, you would have to say that almost without exception they would, they would be rendered unconscious upon the infliction of that injury when the blow was struck.

By the time David Graham went to trial a year later, prosecutors had abandoned the theory that Zamora hit Adrianne with the weight.  Zamora says all this is key, because if she lied about the weight, it calls her entire confession into question. 

According to Zamora, what really happened is that after knocking Adrianne unconscious and dragging her back to the car, Graham took her into a field. Then minutes later, more gunshots.

Phillips: So you’re saying he brought her back to the car and then brought her back out into the field?

Zamora: Yeah. 

Phillips: What was your reaction when you heard the shots and you knew that he had killed her?

Zamora: I was in denial.

But as the reality set in, Zamora says she was anything but a cold, callous instigator who had driven her boyfriend to murder. 

Zamora: I was crying.  I was shaking.

Phillips: And Graham?

Zamora: He was calming me down and he was hugging me and had his arms around me and was saying, “It’s going to be ok, baby, it’s going to be alright.”

And that’s exactly how this friend of Graham’s described the couple when they showed up at his house just hours after the murder.

(at trial) Atty. Linebarger: When Diane came in she was whimpering  wasn’t she?

Mr. Green, Graham's friend: Yes sir, she was.

Linebarger: She was crying wasn’t she?

Green: Yes, sir.

Linebarger: She was emotionally upset, wasn’t she?

Green: That’s correct.

Linebarger: David was not crying, was he?

Green: No.

Linebarger: David was not emotionally upset, was he?

Green: No.

Phillips: What did you hope the jury would take from that?

Zamora: I hoped that they would see that if I had meant to go kill her that I would have been as calm as David.  And I wasn’t.  That I wasn’t reacting like some witch woman that was ordering a murder.  Cuz that wasn’t how it was.

Phillips: It proves you were distraught, but it doesn’t necessarily prove you were innocent, Diane. If you were so troubled by it, how is it that you were composed enough to clean up the car the next morning?

Zamora: I wasn’t.  I mean, I wasn’t composed.  I was crying when I was cleaning.  I was angry.  I was scared. 

Scared, she says, that her father would be upset that they’d messed up his car...

Zamora: All I could think, “My father’s gonna kill me.”  He was gonna go into a rage.  He’s gonna want to know what happened. 

And angry at Graham for sleeping, while she scrubbed away at the blood-stained car in her parents’ driveway. 

Zamora: I would go back to the room, periodically, where David was sleeping, and say, “Aren’t you gonna help me?  Look at what you did.  You know, you’re makin’ me do this all by myself.”  And you know, he would say he was too sleepy, or he didn’t want to back in the car, he didn’t want to face the car.

Even worse, she says, was Graham’s indifference to the enormity of what they’d done and to her growing distress.   

Phillips: How did you get through the months after this murder? Knowing what had happened?

Zamora: Well, I did, you know, attempt suicide a couple times.  I tried overdosing on some of my pain medication.  And David stopped me.  He repeatedly stopped me.

Phillips: Because this was eating away at you?

Zamora: I kept thinking about it. When I would try to talk to him, he didn’t—he would say, ‘Oh no, the house could be bugged,’ or ‘The car could be bugged.’  And there was no one to talk to.  There was nothing I could do. 

Phillips: Maybe you should have gone to police immediately.

Zamora: I know that.  Now I know that.  But at the time I was thinking with my heart and not my head.  And more than anything, I wanted to protect him.

Why was Zamora protecting the man who, she says, dragged her into a murderous plot she knew nothing about?  Or, was Diane Zamora in on it all along... and protecting herself? 

Sgt. Allan Patton: I’ve been involved in 89 homicide investigations in the last 16 and a half years, and this is, without a doubt, the most senseless murder of all of those.

For nine months, the murder of 16-year-old Adrianne Jones remained a mystery.  Sgt. Allan Patton of the Grand Prairie, Texas police department.

Sgt. Patton: Her brother remembered her leaving about two o’clock in the morning.  There was no struggle, no sign of a kidnapping or forced abduction at the home.  It was as if she had just walked out of the house to go for a ride for a little while.

Police suspected that Adrianne may have known her killer.  But who could it be?

Stone Phillips, Dateline anchor: So there were just no leads?

Sgt. Patton: No sir.

Phillips: Didn’t know where to turn?

Sgt. Patton: Case was cold.

It was about to heat up.  By August 1996,  David Graham and Diane Zamora had graduated high school and entered two of the nation’s elite service academies—Graham now an Air Force cadet in Colorado, and Zamora finishing her first summer in Maryland as a midshipman at the Naval Academy. And, she says, trying to forget the bloody night that bound them together.     

Diane Zamora: I was trying to move on by then. 

Phillips: Move on?

Zamora: --without him.

Phillips: A young woman had been killed.  And you were there; and you knew.  And it was unsolved.

Zamora: I know.  I’m not saying that I reacted right.  I’m not saying that I made a bunch of right choices; because I know I didn’t.  I know I made a bunch of bad choices.  But it’s like I didn’t really know what to do. And I had never really had anyone to talk to about it.   

But Zamora was about to reveal their secret, when a rift developed between the now long-distance lovers. It started when Zamora became close with a fellow midshipman named Jay Guild. She says when Graham found out about this new rival, he began harassing her day and night, with threatening calls and e-mails.   

Zamora: He would explode at me.  And he even called the officials at the Naval Academy and said Jay was raping me.  Which they questioned me about.  And I told them, “That’s not true.”  I had so much stress by that point.  And for David to just keep adding to it like he was, I finally had enough.

During a Dateline interview shortly after his 1998 murder conviction, David Graham claimed he was only responding to Zamora’s pleas for help, and denied ever trying to threaten or control her.     

Phillips (1998 interview): “You are mine.  and no one else can ever have any of you. I earned you.  I own you.  You belong completely, one hundred percent to me.”

David Graham: Well, you’re only seeing one side of those letters.

Phillips: Is that not controlling?

Graham: She had me thinking, you know she was being abused by this guy.

Phillips: But David, you’re not talking about coming here and taking care of Jay Guild, you’re talking about coming here and getting her. “You better never be around Jay again, or I’ll do something drastic.  I’ll come and get you and that’s no lie.” That sounds like a threat to Diane.

Graham: I didn’t... at the time I didn’t know how to... I just didn’t know how to deal with something like that.

And Zamora didn’t know how to deal with his possessiveness. One night at Annapolis, she did what they’d both sworn never to do.  She talked.

Zamora: I don’t know what I was thinking.  Maybe I wasn’t thinking.  I was just reacting.  At that time when I got that e-mail, emotionally, it was like a dam burst in me. And I was like, “ I’m tired of this.”   

Phillips: Do you think you wanted to be caught?

Zamora: I think I wanted out.  And I couldn’t.  He wouldn’t let me.  He was threatening to kill Jay. He he would threaten me.  He would threaten me over the phone constantly.  Even all those miles away, I couldn’t live in peace. I just had to say something. I was tired.  And part of me just wanted to get rid of it all, to do away with it all and just get it out.

What Zamora told two roommates in separate conversations was so startling they were honor bound to report it.  Their accounts of what she’d said differed in some ways, but the basic story was the same— that a young girl in Texas had paid a terrible price for coming between Zamora and her boyfriend. And Diane, they said, didn’t seem bothered by it at all.  Zamora had also shared her secret with Jay Guild. And his description to Dateline was just as damning.    

Jay Guild: She just basically said that “I told him to kill her.” She felt she deserved it because she intruded on something that was hers.  And she said if she had to, she’d do it again.

Zamora: That’s not what I said.  I said that because of me someone was dead, and I believed that. And I felt it was my fault. And I had even come to blame Adrianne,  I turned a lotta my hatred towards her, because I couldn’t turn it towards David.  I had to blame somebody. And I didn’t even know her.

But if David Graham really acted alone, as Zamora insists, why would she hold herself responsible in any way for the murder?  She claims that after Graham shot Adrianne in the head, he wasted no time getting inside hers.

Zamora: He said he did it because of me.  That it was my fault, that I made him do it, and that’s what he told me immediately after. I made him do this. 

And just because Graham said it, she believed it? As capable and confident as she seemed, Zamora says she was no match for David Graham, that beneath his boyish exterior was a master manipulator who dominated her mentally and physically.   

Zamora: He would hit me.  He would strangle me. And then he would have sex with me.

David Graham (Dateline 1998 interview): I never did anything to hurt her.  I never dominated her.  You know the crazed sex, that was all just a story to get the jury on her side.

Phillips: You didn’t try to strangle her with a belt?

Graham: No, she tried to strangle herself with a belt a few times, but not me.

Phillips: He says he never strangled you.  That you—

Zamora: Oh.

Phillips: --strangle yourself.

Zamora: Oh (laughs).  All right.

Phillips: In an attempt to make him believe that you were suicidal. 

Zamora: He used to hold a gun to my head too. And he tried to have sex with me with a gun.

Zamora insists the violent fantasies were his not hers, and that even on the night of the murder when she was hiding in the trunk she worried what he might do.  Not to Adrianne, but to her.    

Zamora: I was terrified back there.  And one of my first thought was, “He’s gonna kill me.”

Phillips: He’s gonna kill you?

Zamora: That’s what I was thinking—and then I thought “No, he would never kill me.  He loves me.” 

Zamora says her wildly conflicting feelings toward Graham are what caused her to spill their secret, then just as quickly, try to take it back.  When authorities at Annapolis questioned her about what she had told her roommates, she could have come clean and broken Graham’s grip on her.  That’s not what Zamora did. 

Zamora: When they called me in, I told them, “I lied.  I was just—“  I told them, “I—I lied.” You know, I was trying to make him think I was tough. And you know, I just wanted to take back everything I had said.

As bizarre as it sounds, Zamora says all she could think about was protecting the one person from whom she needed protection—David Graham.

Zamora: I never wanted to hurt him. Even now. I know he’s done all this. Even now I can’t wish him hurt. Because a part of me will always love him. As horrible as he’s been, the horrible things he’s done. I can’t just hate him. And I’m not saying that’s reasonable. I know it’s not.

But the damage had already been done.  Officials at Annapolis sent Zamora home for two weeks while police investigated.  Despite her denials, she remained a suspect in the murder of Adrianne Jones. And what she did next raised even more suspicion.  She’d only been home in Texas for a few days when she boarded a plane for Colorado to see Graham.

Phillips: You say you wanted out of the relationship.  But you left Annapolis; and you went to see him in Colorado.

Zamora: Uh-huh (affirms). And I told him, “You know, I’m leaving because they questioned me and I wanna see you; I miss you.”  And he said, “It’s all right.  I love you.  Come see me.”

And that was a little scary.  I thought, “Oh no.  He’s luring me there and he’s gonna beat me up when I get there.” I waited ‘til everyone got off the plane.  And then I finally got off. And I was just terrified. I couldnt even look at him. I kept lookin’ at the floor.  And he lifted up my chin; looked at me, and said, “I love you.”  And I just broke down crying.

Phillips: What did he say about the fact that you had talked about this?  Was he upset?

Zamora: He didn’t act upset.  He acted really calm.  Which made me love him even more.  I thought, “How can I mess up like this, and him not want to strangle me?”  But he seemed like it was… just be all right.

It was parents’ weekend at the Air Force Academy. Graham’s mother and sister were visiting, as well.  David and Diane slipped out when they could for time alone.  What did they do when they were together?  More importantly, what did they talk about?  Was Zamora there to patch things up with her volatile boyfriend?  Or to meet with her accomplice and get their stories straight, as police closed in?  

Phillips: I asked David did the authorities put words in your mouth in your confession?  And he said “No, Diane did.”

David Graham:  Diane said she was going to fly up there to see me the next day, so I went to pick her up at the airport....

When we spoke to David Graham in 1998, we asked him about Zamora’s trip to see him at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, after she had spoken about the murder back in Maryland and put police on their trail.  

Stone Phillips, Dateline anchor:  Did you talk about the murder?

Graham: Yes. And she told me what she wanted me to say.  And I went along with her.

Phillips: David says you went there—

Diane Zamora: To see him.

Phillips: —to tell him what to say.

Zamora: No.

Phillips: To get your stories straight.

Zamora: I went there cuz I missed him.  I hadn’t seen him for two months.

Phillips: But you’ve just been telling me that you wanted out of the relationship.  That you were afraid of him.  That he was sending you threatening e-mails.

Zamora: And I also said I’m in love with him. It was a dysfunctional relationship and it was constantly like that...

Zamora insists the only thing she told Graham in Colorado was that if they were caught he should deflect some of the blame onto her by saying she’d ordered him to do it. She believed being a year younger than Graham, she’d be protected from prosecution as an adult.   

Zamora: I was 17.  I told him blame it on me because I was a minor at the time.

Phillips: How in your mind was that gonna help David Graham?

Zamora: ‘Cause people would blame me.  And since I thought I was a minor, I thought “Well, he’ll be alright.  And no one would be able to touch me.” And I was wrong. 

After Zamora returned home to Texas, Graham was called in for questioning.  Through more than eight hours of interrogation, he denied knowing anything about the murder.  But the Air Force demanded he take a lie detector test.  He is said to have failed... and that’s when he wrote his now famous confession.

Graham: One of the Air Force investigators said, “Just sit down, I’ve seen some of your English papers” ‘cause they searched my room, you know. I know you can write, so just do that for us, just write. “And I just wrote.”

Sgt. Allan Patton: I was just in awe of the detail and how overly articulate this man was in his description of this murder.

Sgt. Allan Patton had never seen anything like it: Graham’s confession read like a romance novel, blaming Zamora for demanding the murder, and himself for being too much in love to say no.

“The request of Adrianne’s life was, not for a second, taken lightly by me.  I couldn’t even believe she would ask that of me. Well, Diane’s beautiful eyes have always played the strings of my heart effortlessly.”

“The only thing that could satisfy her womanly vengeance was the life of the one who had, for an instant, taken her place.”

A copy of Graham’s confession was on its’ way from Colorado, when Patton knocked on the door at Zamora’s grandparents’ house where she was sleeping.     

Sgt. Patton: We arrested her like 1 a.m. and by the time we got back here and had booked her in, we had a faxed copy of his statement.

Phillips: What was her reaction when she heard that she was being charged with capital murder?

Sgt. Patton: She didn’t say a thing. 

Phillips: Did she looked surprised?

Sgt. Patton: Not at all.

Zamora: I remember when they came to the door.  Being terrified.  And then, my little brother was asleep in bed next to me.  And I just reached out and  I wrapped my arms around him, and I was like—I was like, “Baby, pray.  I’m so scared.”  I was terrified.

Phillips: Sergeant Patton said you showed very little emotion at the time.

Zamora: Well, and that’s how I usually am.  To me, emotion is already being kind of weak.  And I do my best to keep tears from falling if I can help it.

And she did her best to keep from saying anything when she was questioned later that morning.  In one of the strangest twists of all, Zamora says when Patton brought her to his cubicle at to the grand prairie police department and read aloud from graham’s confession to murder, she was moved. To her, it sounded like a love letter.   

Zamora: It did.  It really did. The parts that called to me were about how he was always in love with me and the way he goes on talking about how pretty much I’m the only one in his heart and it broke my heart to hear it.  And I almost felt like he was telling me, “Go along with him,” and I did.                         

The 17-year-old decided to waive her right to an attorney and give Patton her statement. Though she would later call it a pack of lies, Patton says the story she told him flowed from her lips. 

Phillips: So you’re sitting at the typewriter and she’s talking.

Sgt. Patton: Yes, sir.  Just sittin’ in front of me at my desk, leaned over, talking.

Phillips: How would you describe her as she gave you this confession?

Sgt. Patton: Very relieved.  It was as if she was dying to tell what had happened.

The story she told was strikingly similar to Graham’s. Patton says that’s what happens when people tell the truth.

Sgt. Patton:  I think two very smart people gave two very bright statements about the truth.  That’s the way I see that. I’ll stand by this until the day I die, that although you can look at it and wonder if there was embellishment or fabrication, I believe it’s the truth on both parts.  I really do.    

But Zamora says the reason their stories matched isn’t because it was the truth, but because she was merely parrotting Graham... and able to do it because Patton read her more of Graham’s statement than he should have.  

Phillips: She claims you read the whole statement to her.

Sgt. Patton: Yes, she’s claimed all along.  I read a sentence, flipped to the next page, read a sentence, flipped to the next page, read a sentence, flipped to the next page.  Showed her his signature.  Showed her his initials on the corners of the other pages.

Phillips: So you didn’t read the entire confession to her?

Sgt. Patton: No sir, I did not.  Excerpts is all I read of the confession. 

Phillips: Had you read the entire confession, I mean clearly that would have been a problem.

Sgt. Patton: Yes sir it would have been.  You do not wanna do that.

Zamora: But he did. And I don’t really care if anyone believes me.  I know the truth.  And he has to live with that.

Patton says in 1996 the Grand Prairie police didn’t record interrogations, so it’s impossible to go to a tape and prove how much he read.  He acknowledges what he did share was key, that sometimes that’s necessary, and accepted practice, to get suspects to talk. 

Phillips: How much of a sense of his version would she have gotten from what you read?

Sgt. Patton: Basically that he’d shot her.  And that Diane had hit her with the bar bells.  I mean I read sentences that were dynamic sentences—didn’t just, you know, pick any sentence. 

Zamora: Even if he wants to just claim he only read parts, you shouldn’t have shown it to me, and he shouldn’t have even read me factual parts.

Phillips: Well, the courts have ruled on that and said  what he did was within the bounds of police work and ethics.

Zamora: Well, they teach them to lie a lot in police training.  They do.  That’s one of their tactics.  They’re allowed to lie and do all sorts of things.  As long as they can get someone convicted, that’s what matters. And that’s not right.

But if anyone learned to lie, it was Zamora.  And if you believe her now, she learned from a master.  How good a liar is David Graham?  He may have failed an Air Force polygraph, but during our interview, he looked me in the eye and claimed that on the night of the murder he wasn’t even there. 

Phillips (1998 interview):   So Diane drove her to the lake that night, Diane shot her, Diane killed her?

David Graham: That’s right.

Phillips: You weren’t there?

Graham: I was not there.

It was a blatant lie.  And Graham admitted as much years later in a British documentary, when he owned up to being there and to pulling the trigger.

Graham (interview by a British documentary): I picked up the gun which was now down on the floor in the car and went out there to her an just kind of vaguely pointed the gun and shot once and got back in the car. Diane said “Is she dead? Are you sure she’s dead? Shoot her again, make sure she’s dead.” Then I went back out, got a little closer, fired two  more times, got back in the car.

Sgt. Allan Patton believes Graham and Zamora are both guilty of murder, with one crucial distinction:

Phillips: You believe she has a conscience.

Sgt. Patton: Yes, sir. I do.

Phillips: And David Graham?

Sgt. Patton: A cold-hearted killer.

Phillips: Had Diane Zamora not spoken about this crime, this murder, to those fellow midshipmen—

Sgt. Patton: It would still be unsolved.

Phillips: If you’re not guilty of murder, what are you guilty of?

Zamora: Well, a whole lot, like I know maybe obstruction of justice ‘cause I know I didn’t come forward. I never said I was just totally innocent of any kind of wrong-doing whatsoever, but I did say I didn’t intend to kill her.  And I didn’t kill her.  And I didn’t hit her in the head.  And I didn’t force David to go out there and kill her.

If Zamora really did take the blame for a murder she neither ordered nor carried out, one question remains: What theory of the crime does she want us to believe instead?

Phillips: Why do you think David killed her?

Zamora: I mean, I can’t read his mind.  But I feel like she rejected him. 

Phillips: But if this was about David feeling rejected by Adrianne -- 

Zamora: He didn’t take rejection well.

Phillips: —and not because you were jealous beyond control, and ordered him to do this.  Why would he take you out there?  Why would he involve you in murdering someone out of a sense of rejection?

Zamora: I feel like he wanted to hold me to him.  I really feel like he did.  Because like I said, we were breaking up.  I wasn’t gonna stay with him.  And you know, I know it was stupid.  Now, looking back, I know it was very stupid for me to go out there. But you know, when you’re a teenager, you do stupid stuff.

Phillips: What do you say to people who say even if you didn’t hit her in the head, even if you didn’t go there planning to murder her, even if you weren’t the one who pulled the trigger. You were there, you knew what happened, you didn’t come forward. You helped cover it up… you got what you deserved.

Zamora: But I didn’t... I’m here not because I cleaned up the car, and that was wrong.  And I’m not here because I didn’t tell anyone anything, and that was wrong, too, I know that.  What they convicted me of was intent. Because it was my intention that mattered, and the jury believed my intention was to kill her. That’s why they convicted me.

Phillips: Based on your own confession.

Zamora: That was a lie.                        

It will be 30 years before Diane Zamora is eligible for parole. It has been plenty of time to contemplate what might have been, the mistakes she has made, and the girl whose life ended before her eyes.

Phillips: Do you feel any remorse?

Zamora: I think about her all the time, yeah.  And I felt remorse even then. Because I know Adrian’s mom can’t see her.  But my mom can see me. And I know it must hurt, you know, ‘cause I know it hurts my mom. I see the pain. (crying)

Phillips: Are these tears for Adrianne and her mother or are they for yourself and your mom, Diane?

Zamora: For all of it. I wish I could have made different decisions.  But I didn’t.  And I’m not saying that I was right.  And I’m not saying it made any sense. And I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.

After hearing her story and taking a closer look at the evidence, do you believe Diane Zamora?  Did she go along that night to question Adrianne Jones, or to kill her? Before you make up your mind, there’s one more piece of the puzzle you might want to consider: Having lost her appeal in the Texas courts, Zamora did something this past February she’s wanted to do for years.  With the approval of her lawyer, she took a lie detector test arranged by “Dateline.”

Exactly one week after she had taken the polygraph examination, we saw Zamora again. From the expression on her face, it was clear she had no idea what the results were. She was about to find out.

Stone Phillips, Dateline correspondent: So, you took the polygraph. How did it go?  What was it like?

Diane Zamora: I was very nervous.

Phillips: You spoke with the examiner at length before the test began. He went over every question with you in advance. 

Zamora: Yeah, he—well, he told me all the questions.  And went over what my answers would be to each question. 

Phillips: And then he hooked you up for the examination.

Zamora: Uh-huh. Yes, sir.

Phillips: The examiner reported that you altered your breathing at certain points. What’s called a “counter measure”  to try to influence the outcome of the test.

Zamora: No, I was so nervous.  I hadn’t even slept the night before.

Phillips: The examiner says he repeatedly asked you to breathe normally.

Zamora: No, he asked me—

Phillips: To stop with the exaggerated hyperventilating—

Zamora: No, it—

Phillips: And that you did not do that.  You continued to do it throughout the exam.

Zamora: I didn’t hyperventilate. I was trying to breathe deep to calm myself.  Cause, I was really very nervous.  And I remember at one point he told me I was breathing to breathe. So, I tried not to breathe as deeply as I was.  

Phillips: Despite the unusual breathing, here’s what the examiner found.  We’ll—we’ll go through ‘em.

(1) Did you tell David to kill Adrian Jones?  Your answer?

Zamora: No.

Phillips: Deception.

(2)   Did you strike Adrian Jones?  

Zamora: No.

Phillips: Deception

3)   Were you truthful when you stated that the detective read and showed you David’s statement before you prepared your own?  Deception.

4)   On the questions about, “Did you plan with David Graham to cause the death of Adrianne Jones”... Your answer....

Zamora: No.

Phillips: Significant physiological responses indicating deception. Deception was indicated on every one of the relevant questions in the case.

Zamora: Then that should tell you something, cause you know I didn’t strike her.  I proved that already.             

Phillips: So, why would a polygraph test indicate that you were being deceptive, when you answered that you hadn’t struck her?

Zamora: I don’t know. Like I said, I was nervous. I guess what made me so nervous is hope. Something I previously didn’t have. And that’s what was so scary… hope… and not wanting it snatched away from me. That made me very nervous.

We shared the results with two independent experts.  They told us that because of Zamora’s altered breathing they would have ruled the exam inconclusive—“no opinion due to probable countermeasures.”  

But one agreed Zamora’s responses to all of the key questions indicated deception.  And the examiner who administered the test said, in spite of the counter measures, in his opinion, Zamora failed.

Phillips: Many examiners, if they felt that you were altering your breathing and ignoring their warnings not to, would stop the test right there.  I’m just gonna ask you very directly Diane, did you try to influence the outcome of this examination?

Zamora: No, I tried to keep myself calm. 

Phillips: It’s not admissible in court.  It is not foolproof.  It is just another piece of the puzzle.

Zamora: To me it just doesn’t make sense. And I know it doesn’t hold in the court. I know that. But it was important to me. Important to my family. And that’s what really  mattered to me. I went in with good intentions and high hopes.

Phillips: Well, it took some bravery to take this test.  It would also show some bravery to accept the results. Do you accept the results?

Zamora: I don’t believe them.  I know that they’re not true.  But like I said, I’m not giving up. 

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints

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