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Article published December 12, 2013
Newlywed pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder
MISSOULA, Mont. — A federal judge accepted a guilty plea Thursday from a Montana newlywed after she reached a surprise plea agreement and said she pushed her husband from a cliff in Glacier National Park. The development came before a jury was set to begin considering the case against 22-year-old Jordan Graham. In exchange for the plea to second-degree murder, prosecutors agreed to drop a first-degree murder charge and a count of making a false statement to authorities. First-degree murder means a crime is premeditated. Graham could face a maximum sentence of life in prison on March 27. In accepting the plea, District Judge Donald Molloy told Graham to recount exactly what happened the night of July 7 when her husband Cody Johnson, 25, fell to his death. Graham said she told Johnson that she wasn't happy and wasn't feeling like she should after getting married. She said they argued and at one point he grabbed her by the arm. She said she brushed his hand away and pushed him, with one hand on his arm and one on his back. “I wasn't thinking about where we were ... I just pushed,” she told the judge. She said she then drove back to Kalispell without calling for help because she was so afraid she did not know what to do. Earlier in the day, defense attorneys wrapped up their case without testimony from Graham. Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases Thursday. The plea agreement was reached before closing arguments took place.