Montana bride Jordan Linn Graham was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday after killing her newlywed husband, Cody Johnson. The couple had been married for only eight days when Graham pushed Johnson off a 200 foot cliff on a popular hiking trail in the Glacier National Park.
The pair were married June 30th, 2013 and ventured shortly thereafter to the national park near their home in Kalispell, Montana. Johnson was reported missing on July 8th when he failed to appear at work. Contacted by the authorities on July 9th, Graham said she saw a “a dark…car pulling out of the driveway.” She added that her husband also sent her a text saying he would be out with friends.
It was on July 11th that Graham herself reported finding Johnson’s body to a ranger at the bottom on the park’s popular Loop Trail. When the ranger questioned the oddity of Graham making the discovery, she replied simply it was one of her husband’s favorite spots. She said, “He would come up here with friends to drive fast when…[they] were visiting from out of state.”
On July 18th, Graham came clean, telling the authorities she had falsified information about the case. She admitted later on the same day to having pushed him off intentionally. “After providing [numerous] false statements to [authorities] and impeding the investigation…Graham…admitted [to] pushing Cody from behind ” a court statement read.
Last December, Graham pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, in exchange for a three decade prison sentence. On Wednesday, Graham filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea after reading a prosecution memo which suggested the murder was premeditated and asked for fifty years. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who said Graham showed absolutely no remorse for her crime, denied the motion. The Montana judge,instead honored the plea agreement, sentencing her to 30 years in prison for the murder of her husband.
Upon handing down the sentence, Molloy called her a “normal person…on the surface.” He added though, “how does a normal person kill her [spouse] of eight days?”
The 365 month long sentence is without parole, and defense lawyers have not mentioned an appeal. The family members of Cody Johnson are angered by the sentence and said they were hoping for something longer. Montana resident and aunt to Cody Johnson, Celeste Watson expressed disappointment over the sentence. “We are not happy with the sentence term,” she said. “We were hoping for 50 to life.”
An unidentified juror, who never got to vote due to the rushed plea, came to the sentencing and told CNN reporters, “I just felt she should have gotten life.” Sherry Johnson, Cody’s mother said about testifying, “it did help a lot to get that emotion out there.” The family, while relieved to see Graham’s punishment sealed, is still looking for answers.
“Only two people know the truth about that night,” said Watson. The four family members, accompanied by friends, walked away from the Montana federal court house and away from a woman who said the murder was a “reckless act” for which she had “no answers.”
The 22-year-old Montana bride Jordan Linn Graham will spend a sentence of 30 years in prison for the murder of her husband, Cody Johnson. With the gruesome shadow which now marks July 7th 2013, the family said they will lean on each other to move with “Cody…[watching]…from heaven.”
By Erin P. Friar