Kalispell bride takes plea deal, in custody of U.S. Marshals


MISSOULA, Mont. - Kalispell bride Jordan Graham pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just 15 minutes after attorneys were set to start closing arguments.

Graham has been remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals, she was taken to the Missoula County Detention center. She'll stay there in custody until her sentencing hearing, scheduled for March.

Judge Donald Molloy accepted Graham's plea of guilty to second-degree murder with malice aforethought in exchange for the government dropping charges of first-degree murder and lying to investigators.

Graham pushed her husband, Cody Lee Johnson, off a cliff in Glacier National Park in July.

Before Molloy would accept the plea he asked Graham several questions to make sure she knew what she was doing.

"You're looking at maybe putting your life in the federal prison for the balance," Molloy said.

Graham told him she understood she faces a maximum of life in prison.

Molloy also asked her to tell him what happened in Glacier National Park. Graham told him she and Johnson were arguing when they were at the park. They climbed over a wall and down to a stump. That's when Graham said Johnson grabbed her arm so she pulled away, and could have walked away. Instead, she pushed Johnson with both hands.

"I had no regards to location or what would happen, I just pushed," she said.

When Molloy asked Graham why she didn't call for help she responded, "I ran back up to the car and that moment I was scared and didn't know what to do."

The prosecution rested its case on Thursday morning and then Graham's defense team called 12 witnesses. Each testified about Graham and her wedding to Johnson.

The defense team showed a video of the wedding. Graham and her family cried as they watched it, Johnson's family members sobbed in the back row.

For more on the background of this case, click here.

Kalispell Newlywed Murder Trial Complete Coverage