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Suspect in 2009 murder of CU grad student sentenced to 10 years

Clarissa Lockhart is one of the four suspects an Arapahoe County grand jury indicted for the 2009 murder of Andrew Graham.
Andrew Graham, 23, was killed by a single gunshot wound to his back in late 2009.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — A 29-year-old woman, one of four suspects indicted in the November 2009 murder of a 23-year-old University of Colorado graduate student, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years of mandatory parole.

Clarissa Lockhart on Feb. 27 pleaded guilty to racketeering under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act in Arapahoe County Court. Other counts were dismissed as part of the plea agreement, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Lockhart has a 1,010-day pre-sentence confinement credit. She has until July 2 to surrender.

Andrew Graham was shot and killed while he was walking home from the Dry Creek light rail station on Nov. 5, 2009 — more than a decade ago.

His mother said at a previous sentencing that he was targeted by the perpetrators in part because he stopped to buy sandwiches for people experiencing homelessness.

She spoke at the January sentencing of Allen DeShawn Ford, another suspect in the case. Ford accepted a plea agreement on a racketeering charge in November. In exchange, he was sentenced to 20 years in the Department of Corrections for his role in Graham's death.

Credit: KUSA
Allen DeShawn Ford, was sentenced Friday after taking a plea deal.

RELATED: Man sentenced to 20 years for role in 2009 murder of CU grad student

Prosecutors said that Ford shared information that could lead to an arrest of the then-juvenile who investigators think pulled the trigger. Ford was first arrested in January 2017 on charges for first-degree murder, racketeering and conspiracy. 

RELATED: 8 years later: Four arrests made in man's death

One of the other suspects in Graham's death, Joseph Martin, 27, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to burglary in February 2018. He is eligible for parole as soon as June 2021, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections website.

Charges against Kendall Austin, another suspect, were dropped after prosecutors alleged there wasn’t enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

RELATED: Trials in 2009 murder case pushed back until next year

Graham's mother attended all the hearings for the suspects in her son’s death, saying that it was important to ensure that the promising young man pursuing a graduate degree in engineering wouldn’t be forgotten.

RELATED: Mom seeks justice for her son's murder

“My son will not have the life he earned," Cyndi Gelston said during Ford's January sentencing. "He will never experience love, marriage, fatherhood or just normal parts of life. I’ll never understand why such a wonderful person had to die in such a horrible way.”

The details of the investigation into Graham's murder were suppressed. The motive and what led up to the crime remained largely unknown, even as suspects have gone through the legal process.

Attorney Neil Silver, who has represented Lockhart during the legal process, said in court last year that the case involves allegations of “a Black youth gang targeting white people.”

He also said the case was based “only” on confessions.

“There is no DNA,” he said. “There is no video. There are no witnesses.”

> This story draws on previous reporting from 9NEWS' Allison Sylte.

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