For those who have been paying attention to the Jordan Graham murder trial, news that she took a plea deal on Thursday came as a shock to most. The 21-year-old Montana woman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for the state waiving counts of first-degree murder and lying to investigators. Doing so, she admits pushing her husband of eight days, Cody Johnson, off a cliff in Montana’s Glacier National Park in July, CNN reports.
The deal was announced after the defense and prosecution rested their cases in the Missoula courtroom, but before they delivered their closing arguments. There was a break after the defense finished its case, and when everyone came back to the courtroom the judge announced that there had been new developments. A jury was not present when it was revealed a deal had been reached.
In Graham's account, she and her husband got into an argument near the Montana cliff. She said he grabbed her arm, and when she tried to break free from his grasp, he fell off the cliff. But there were major problems with that story. She went on to flee the scene without seeking help. Then she sent text messages to friends pretending she didn’t know where Johnson was and then talked to other pals about a coming party.
The defense made a case that she was a naïve, shy girl who got along better with children than adults. She was afraid when Johnson fell off the cliff and didn’t know how to handle the situation.
But the prosecution presented a very different story about a calculated killer who first lied to police about being the last one to see Johnson alive. She even brought investigators to the 25-year-old’s body. Graham only changed her story when she was shown a surveillance photo of them entering the park together, CNN said.
Prosecutors said Graham brought her new husband to the cliff with every intention of pushing him off. They also showed the jury texts that Graham exchanged with a friend where she said she was having seconds thoughts about her marriage.
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