An American woman who pushed her newlywed husband off a cliff has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after a judge rejected her request to withdraw her guilty plea to a charge of second-degree murder. Jordan Linn Graham, 22, took the stand during her sentencing hearing to offer a tearful apology to the family of Cody Johnson, 25, who died eight days after their wedding last summer 2013. But the district judge Donald Molloy indicated he had continuing doubts about the defendant's honesty. "There's only one person in this room that knows what happened, and I don't think she's been entirely truthful about what happened," Molloy said. Prosecutors had recommended a prison term of 50 years to life. They said Graham, of Kalispell, Montana, lured Johnson to the top of a 91-metre (300ft) cliff in Glacier national park on 7 July and pushed him over, then lied repeatedly to investigators in an attempt to cover up the crime.
In December 2013 while the case was being heard by a jury, Graham dropped her claims of innocence and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just before closing arguments in the trial. Prosecutors in return dropped a first-degree murder charge and a count of making a false statement. Before her sentencing, Graham addressed the judge and assembled friends and family members. She claimed still to love Johnson and apologized for the pain she had caused. "It was a moment of complete shock and panic," Graham said of the events surrounding Johnson's death. "I have no other explanation." Prosecutors painted a more sinister image of the defendant. They said she drove away from the murder scene without checking whether Johnson had survived the fall. The absence of any drugs or alcohol in the case meant the defendant "was thinking very clearly", said the assistant US attorney Kris Mclean.
In the days leading up to her sentencing, her attorneys sought to withdraw Graham's guilty plea after prosecutors recommended up to life in prison. They described their client's actions as "extremely reckless but unintentional" and argued that a 10-year sentence was appropriate. They portrayed her lies to investigators as "distorted statements" that Graham later sought to clarify because she could not bear the burden of her guilt. "Embedded within her false narrative were pieces of the truth that the defendant would ultimately reveal [to law enforcement] in pursuit of catharsis," her lawyers wrote in documents submitted to the court this month. Before he accepted her plea in December, the judge asked Graham to tell him what happened. Graham said she wanted to confront her husband about her marriage doubts but did not know how he would take it. She said the couple climbed down a treacherous slope below a popular spot in the park called the Loop and spoke on a narrow ledge, hundreds of feet above a ravine.
She told Johnson she was unhappy, they argued, and at one point, she said, he grabbed her by the arm, and she thought he was going to pull her. She told the judge she got angry at Johnson, brushed his hand away, then pushed him, with one hand on his arm and one on his back. "I wasn't thinking about where we were … I just pushed," Graham said. Graham initially told investigators that Johnson left their house on 7 July with unknown friends. But Johnson's friends testified that they were suspicious of the story and suspected Graham played a role in his disappearance. Graham showed police a fabricated email – purportedly from a friend of Johnson – that said Johnson was dead and to call off the search. Graham acknowledged she was with Johnson on the cliff after investigators confronted her with a security camera photo of the couple entering the park. Prosecutors presented dozens of text messages between Graham and a friend from church that documented how Graham's nervous excitement at the prospect of the wedding turned into despair over the week that followed. Johnson was reported missing on 8 July when he failed to show up for work. His body was found three days later when Graham led a group of searchers to where she had pushed him off the cliff.
A written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court described the tension on top of the cliff, Graham turned and began to walk away. She stated Johnson grabbed her by the arm. Graham turned and removed Johnson’s hand from her arm. After removing Johnson’s hand from her arm, Graham stated she could have just walked away, but due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff.
Graham - Complain r
Graham - Affidavit
Graham - Government trial brief.
Graham - Indictment
Graham - Motion for stay of release order.
Graham - Trial Brief
Jordan Graham also lied about whether she'd been to the park at all even though she "found" the body herself, and even fabricated an email from a fake friend "Tony," to supplement her cover story that he'd taken off with others: "Hello Jordan, My name is Tony. There is no bother in looking for Cody anymore. He is gone. I saw your post on twitter and thought I would email you..." Graham had no documented history of violence not to mention that not-wanting-to-be-married-anymore somehow didn't quite fly as a motive of anyone other than a one-hundred-percent pure psychopath. A cloth was found near to Johnson's body and Graham had said something about blindfolds in her interview, investigators now had a new theory: A Kalispell bride accused of pushing her husband to his death in Glacier National Park in July 2013 may have blindfolded him first, prosecutors contended in U.S. District Court on Friday. "Oh, come on," U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said in disbelief during the court hearing, at which prosecutors asked to delay the trial until February. Molloy said he's inclined to decline that request and called the hypothesis that 22-year-old Jordan Linn Graham blindfolded 25-year-old Cody Johnson before his death "rank speculation."
New court documents reveal that Graham may have made threats that she could kill her parents just a month before the wedding. Prosecutors are attempting to introduce this evidence as well as evidence that the woman previously fabricated allegations of domestic abuse in previous romantic relationships.