Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


US bride pushes husband off a cliff

13 December 2013, 13:13

Missoula - A newlywed bride pleaded guilty on Thursday to killing her husband of eight days by pushing him from a cliff in Glacier National Park while they argued about her second thoughts about the marriage.

The surprise plea agreement with prosecutors came just before closing arguments were set to begin in the trial of Jordan Graham, aged 22.

In exchange for the guilty plea to second-degree murder, prosecutors agreed to drop a first-degree murder charge and a count of making a false statement to authorities.

Graham could face a maximum sentence of life in prison when she is sentenced on 27 March.

In accepting the plea, US District Judge Donald Molloy told Graham to recount exactly what happened the night of 7 July when her husband Cody Johnson, aged 25, fell to his death in the park.

Graham said she decided to confront Johnson about her doubts and she did not know how he would take it. They climbed down a treacherous slope below a popular spot in the park called The Loop and spoke on a narrow ledge hundreds of feet above a ravine.

'I wasn't thinking'

She told Johnson that she wasn't happy and wasn't feeling like she should after getting married. They argued, and at one point, she said, he grabbed her by the arm and she thought he was going to pull her.

She told the judge she got angry at Johnson, brushed his hand away then pushed him, with one hand on his arm and one on his back.

"I wasn't thinking about where we were, I just pushed," Graham told the judge.

She said she then drove back to her home in Kalispell without calling for help because she was so afraid she did not know what to do.

Graham's mother, Lindy Rutledge, buried her head in her husband's jacket sleeve as the judge questioned her daughter.

US marshals then led Graham away in handcuffs.

Afterward, federal public defender Michael Donahoe said prosecutors had proposed the plea agreement.

It was Graham's choice to accept it, he said.

Prosecutors referred questions to US attorney Mike Cotter, who declined to comment before Graham's sentencing.

Johnson was reported missing on 8 July when he failed to show up for work.

Graham initially told investigators that Johnson left their house late 7 July with unidentified friends in a dark-coloured car with Washington state license plates.

Friends of Johnson testified they were suspicious of the story and suspected Graham played a role in his disappearance.

A dispassionate woman

Graham showed police a fabricated email purportedly from a friend of Johnson that said Johnson was dead and to call off the search. The next day, she told Glacier park rangers she found Johnson's body near The Loop because it was a place he wanted to see before he died.

She finally acknowledged that she was with Johnson on the cliff after investigators confronted her with a security camera photo of the couple entering the park.

Prosecutors presented jurors with dozens of text messages between Graham and her friend from church, Kimberly Martinez, that documented how Graham's nervous excitement at the prospect of the wedding turned into despair over the week that followed.

Graham's attorneys said her doubts about her marriage did not mean that she would intentionally harm him.

They attempted to chip away at the prosecution's image of Graham as a cold, dispassionate woman who didn't want to marry Johnson, and their contention that she led him to a dangerous precipice in the Montana park and deliberately pushed him to his death.

They showed the jurors pictures and videos of Graham smiling as she had her hair done and tried on her borrowed wedding dress, then videos of the 29 June wedding and the couple's first dance.

- AP

Tags us

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...