Jordan Graham, the Montana woman who was nicknamed “The Newlywed Killer,” was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for pushing her husband of eight days off a cliff, the Associated Press reports. Cody Johnson was 25.
The pair, who were in Glacier National Park last July 7, apparently were arguing about having second thoughts about their marriage when Graham admittedly shoved her mate to his death. After telling authorities she didn’t know where he was, and then saying Johnson’s death was an accident, Graham, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just before closing arguments during her December trial.
Graham could have faced life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, but AP reported prosecutors dropped that charge and a count of making a false statement to authorities.
Before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula accepted her plea deal in December, he wanted to hear Graham’s account of what happened on the day of Johnson’s death. She explained that she wanted to talk to him about her marriage doubts but wasn’t sure how her new husband would take the news.
They had climbed down a dangerous slope underneath a popular spot in the park called The Loop and discussed their marital troubles on a narrow ledge, hundreds of feet above a ravine. Graham said she wasn’t even thinking about the treacherous location once they began to argue.
As she expected, things got heated. She told the judge he grabbed her by the arm and she thought he was going to pull her. She said she then brushed his hands away and shoved him back. “I wasn’t thinking about where we were. … I just pushed,” Graham said.
She drove back to her home in Kalispell. Johnson was reported missing a day later on July 8 when he didn’t show up for work.
Graham initially told authorities her husband had left the house with friends the day before, but Johnson’s friends were suspicious of Graham. She even showed investigators a fake email that was purportedly from one of Johnson’s friends. It said the 25-year-old was dead and investigators should call off the search.
Eventually, Graham told the truth when security cameras showed her entering the park with Johnson. Prosecutors painted her as a cold woman who had doubts about her marriage a week before the wedding.
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