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Montana newlywed pleads guilty to second-degree murder
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — After lying to family, friends and police about what happened to her new husband when he disappeared in July, a Montana woman finally came clean to a federal judge in a surprising end to her murder trial.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy told Jordan Graham on Thursday that before he accepted her last-minute deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Cody Johnson, he wanted to hear what really happened.
Graham said she decided to talk to Johnson, 25, about her unhappiness eight days after their wedding. So the evening of July 7, just about sunset, the couple went to a popular spot in Glacier park called The Loop. They went over a retaining wall along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and climbed down a rocky, steep slope to the edge of a cliff and a steep drop of a couple hundred feet to a ravine.
There, facing the void, she told Johnson that she wasn’t really happy and that she was not feeling like she believed she ought to after being married, she said.
That’s when she became angry, she said.
“I wasn’t thinking about where we were,” she said. “I just pushed.”
She said she brushed away his hand and then pushed her new husband with one hand on his back and one hand on his shoulder, and he went over.
It wasn’t planned, but she said it was “definitely reckless with an extreme disregard” for life.
Afterward, she ran back to where the car was parked. She had the keys in her pocket. She drove back home to Kalispell, about an hour away, without seeking help. She sent text messages to friends on the drive back — but told nobody what had just happened.
“At that moment, I was so scared, I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
That story quickly unraveled when the versions she told to friends, relatives and authorities didn’t match.
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