Skip to main content

Woman accused of pushing husband off cliff returns to court

From Kyung Lah and Amanda Watts, CNN
September 12, 2013 -- Updated 1025 GMT (1825 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Jordan Linn Graham's attorneys ask a judge to release her
  • NEW: Prosecutors argue she should remain behind bars
  • NEW: They say Graham lied to authorities and tried to cover up the crime
  • Graham, 22, could get life in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder

Missoula, Montana (CNN) -- The Montana newlywed accused of killing her husband by pushing him off a cliff has traded her bridal gown for an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

Jordan Linn Graham, who's charged with second-degree murder, broke down in tears when her mom walked into a courtroom on Wednesday, but remained composed for most of the detention hearing.

The 22-year-old's attorneys asked a judge to release her from jail and place her under home confinement with electronic monitoring.

But prosecutors said she should remain behind bars, arguing that she had lied to authorities, tried to cover up the crime and was at risk of harming herself.

The judge said he would rule on the matter by Thursday.

Newlywed texted before husband's death
Newlywed accused of killing husband

Prosecutors say that Graham shoved Cody Johnson face-first off a steep cliff just eight days into their marriage.

New details in the case emerged during Wednesday's hearing, including an argument from prosecutors that a fake e-mail account had been created just days after Johnson's death as part of what appeared to be an attempt to cover up the alleged killing.

Graham and Johnson had been married just more than a week when an argument in early July allegedly escalated to a case of second-degree murder.

If convicted, Graham will face life in prison.

According to a criminal complaint, Graham told a friend she was having second thoughts about marrying Johnson.

The complaint said the couple argued the night of July 7. Upset, they decided to go hiking in Glacier National Park in Flathead County, Montana, where they continued to fight.

Graham told police that her husband grabbed her by the arm. She turned and removed his hand.

"Graham stated she could have just walked away, but due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff," the complaint read.

His body was discovered several days later.

According to the complaint, Graham changed her story about what happened several times.

Graham's attorney, Michael Donahoe, declined to comment on the case.

"Any time we asked Cody how the relationship was, he always said it was good," friend Cameron Fredrickson said. "It's a complete shock to me. Cody is one of the greatest guys I've had the opportunity to know."

According to the complaint, Graham reportedly told a friend she planned to talk with Johnson about her reservations on July 7. The same day, Graham sent the friend a text message saying, "Oh well, I'm about to talk to him."

The friend responded, "I'll pray for you guys."

Graham wrote back: "But dead serious if u don't hear from me at all again tonight, something happened."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 20, 2014 -- Updated 0249 GMT (1049 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT