Jordan Graham leaves US District Court in Missoula, Montana
in a December last year. REUTERS/Arthur Mouratidis/files
A Montana bride who shoved her husband off a cliff at
Glacier National Park has been sentenced to 30 years in prison
after a federal judge denied her request to withdraw her guilty
plea to a charge of second-degree murder.
Attorneys for Jordan Graham, 22, had sought to rescind her
guilty plea in December, saying that prosecutors were
overreaching by seeking a life sentence and reneging on an
agreement that they expected would involve less prison time.
But U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy denied the request at a
hearing in Missoula, and later sentenced Graham to 30 years
in prison with no chance for early parole, followed by five
years of supervised release.
"Jordan Linn Graham didn't have the human capacity to feel
the wrongfulness of what she'd done, to seek help or even
tell his (her husband's) mother," Molloy said.
Graham has admitted in court to pushing her husband of eight
days off the edge of a cliff last July. She said that on the
day he died, the newlyweds had driven to the Montana park and
walked down to an embankment on the cliff face, where she
told him she wasn't happy and "wasn't sure we should be
Her husband, 25-year-old Cody Johnson, responded by grabbing
her hand, she said.
"I told him to let go and I pushed his hand off," Graham
said. "I just pushed his hand off and just pushed away."
In exchange for Graham pleading guilty to second-degree
murder in a deal struck just as closing arguments were due to
begin in the high profile case, prosecutors dropped a
first-degree murder charge, which carries a mandatory life
Before sentence was pronounced, Johnson's mother, two uncles
and an aunt called on the judge to put Graham behind bars for
"Today and every day I have a broken heart, Cody is my only
child," said his mother, Sherry Johnson. "I believe life in
prison for Jordan is fair."
Graham, wearing a skirt and sweater the hearing, broke down
in tears before sentencing as she began her address to the
judge, saying she still loved the husband she killed.
"A day doesn't go by I don't think about what happened and
why I didn't make different decisions," she said. Turning
briefly toward Johnson's mother, Graham apologized to her.
Prosecutors had argued a life sentence was warranted, given
the seriousness of the crime, Graham's lack of remorse and
the "mental preparations" she made before killing Johnson
during a marital dispute while hiking a steep trail at
Johnson told acquaintances on the morning of his death that
Graham had planned a "surprise" for him that evening,
Assistant U.S. Attorney for Montana Zeno Baucus wrote in