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Monday, December 22, 1997

Fellow jail inmate turns over letters from Diane Zamora

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A former Navy midshipman accused along with an Air Force ex-cadet in a love triangle ending in murder expects probation from her trial, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

A prosecutor told the newspaper in Sunday's editions that a former jailmate of Diane Zamora turned over letters he says the capital murder defendant wrote to him, in return for leniency.

The newspaper obtained the letters that Ms. Zamora, who faces trial next month in the Dec. 4, 1995 slaying of 16-year-old Adrianne Jones, exchanged with inmate David Cotto during September and October 1996.

The letters were exchanged soon after Ms. Zamora and cadet David Graham, her former fiance, were jailed and charged in Ms. Jones' slaying.

"We were stupid but we're both so different now," Ms. Zamora wrote in her first letter to Cotto, dated Sept. 13, 1996. "Everyone out there thinks that we're horrible people without any respect for human life. If only they knew the truth ... ."

In the letters, Ms. Zamora shared her thoughts and feelings about life in jail, her faith in God and her love for Graham.

"I'm going to get out of here, just you wait," she wrote in one letter dated September 1996, after she was placed in a high-security cell.

"I believe God is working this all out. ... I can't wait to see the miracle he works," she said in another letter, adding: "I pray for probation in this case."

Ms. Zamora, 19, remains in Tarrant County Jail. Bond for the teen-ager and Graham, a 20-year-old Mansfield High School graduate who enrolled as a cadet at the Air Force Academy, is set at $250,000.

John Linebarger, Ms. Zamora's attorney, said his client frequently exchanged letters with jail inmates, ignoring his advice.

"I told her not to write anyone from the jail," he said, but "it's my understanding that, against my advice, she returned a lot of letters."

Police said Ms. Jones was killed and dumped along a dark Grand Prairie road because she had a one-time tryst with Graham.

"I pray that God gives us another chance at life," Ms. Zamora wrote in September. "We are not bad people. We were young, in love and not thinking straight."

Ms. Zamora wrote that she would rather be sentenced to die than remain in jail for the rest of her life.

"Believe it or not, that's an actual comfort to me because I know beyond a doubt that we would be united in heaven," she wrote. "We are both Christians and God has forgiven us. Now, if only the rest of the nation would have as much mercy. ..."

Even though the two have since ended their relationship, at the time, Ms. Zamora wrote of plans for a honeymoon and children.

"Everyone is trying to pit us against each other but don't they understand, it won't work," she wrote. "Our love is too strong for that. I'd die for David and he would die for me. ..."

Cotto wanted to turn over the letters in return for leniency in his own unrelated criminal cases. But Mike Parrish, lead prosecutor in Ms. Zamora's case, said he refused even though he knew a letter he said was from Ms. Zamora.

"I've known for quite a while that she has been writing several people, Cotto being one of them," said Parrish.

Linebarger told the Star-Telegram he could not confirm that the letters were penned by Zamora and said they sounded like "a desperate person to me ... a lonely, frightened, bewildered child."

He said he advised Ms. Zamora to "shut up and not talk to anyone in the tank (jail) because they could turn on her."

Cotto told the paper he started writing letters to Ms. Zamora in jail and that she wrote back. He is on a list of potential witnesses who may be called by prosecutors in Zamora's trial.Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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