Jordan Linn Graham, a Montana newlywed charged with killing her 25-year-old husband at Glacier National Park, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in a deal with prosecutors that shocked followers of the case.
The Associated Press reported Graham, 22, reached the deal
moments before a jury was to start hearing closing arguments in the case. She now faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison when she is sentenced March 27.
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Graham had earlier admitted to authorities that she had pushed her husband of eight days from a cliff at Glacier National Park. But Graham maintained that it was an accident; prosecutors argued it was premeditated and that Graham lured Cody Johnson to the site.
The deal means prosecutors will drop a first-degree murder charge against Graham, in addition to a count of making a false statement to authorities.
Graham told District Judge Donald Molloy on Thursday that she and Johnson began arguing when she told him she wasn’t feeling like a newlywed should and wasn’t happy with her marriage. At one point, she told the judge, Johnson grabbed her by the arm. That’s when Graham brushed aside his hand and pushed him.
“I wasn’t thinking about where we were,” the AP quoted her as telling the judge. “I just pushed.”
She told the judge she drove back to Kalispell and didn’t call authorities because she was scared.
Johnson was reported missing when he failed to show up for work on July 8. His wife told authorities conflicting stories, which began with an account of Johnson leaving their house with some friends on July 7. She later gave authorities a fabricated email from a “friend” who said Johnson was dead and the search for him should be called off. When investigators confronted her with security camera pictures of the couple entering the park, she changed her story once more, telling an FBI agent that she pushed him during an argument and said it was an accident.
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