Two Weeks After Sentencing, Jordan Graham Decides to Appeal Murder Conviction

By Beacon Staff

Lawyers for the Kalispell women who murdered her husband in Glacier National Park filed a notice of appeal in federal court April 10, opening the way for a formal appeal in the coming weeks and months. The three-page document filed on Thursday stated that Jordan Graham planned to object to both her conviction and sentencing.

Attorneys Michael Donahoe and Andy Nelson wrote in the notice of appeal that the government breached its plea agreement and failed to dismiss a first-degree murder charge with prejudice, among other issues. They also questioned the “reasonableness” of the 365-month sentence that was handed down on March 27.

“It is the appellant’s intent to appeal all appealable aspects of the conviction and sentence whether listed here or not,” Donahoe wrote in the court document, filed just hours before the appeal deadline.

Once the formal appeal is submitted to the court, the government will have a chance to respond. Then the Ninth District Court of Appeals will either issue a ruling or allow for oral arguments. No timeline has been set for the appeals process.

District Judge Donald Molloy sentenced Graham to 30 years in prison for pushing her husband of only eight days, Cody Lee Johnson, off a cliff near The Loop along the Going-to-the-Sun Road last summer. During her trial in December, Graham, 22, agreed to a deal to plead guilty to second-degree murder if prosecutors dropped the charges of first-degree murder and making false statements.

Two days before her sentencing, Graham attempted to withdraw her guilty plea, arguing that the government – which asked for a life sentence, but nothing less than 50 years – was trying to punish her for first-degree murder rather than second-degree murder. Molloy denied her request to withdraw the plea.

Graham and Johnson were married June 30, 2013 but soon after she started having second thoughts about their nuptials. Late on July 7, the couple was having an argument near The Loop trail when, according to Graham, in a sudden fit of rage she pushed Johnson to his death over a 300-foot cliff. Graham initially covered up the murder and said that Johnson had left their Kalispell home with “car buddies,” but four days later she led friends and family to his body. On July 16, during an interview with the FBI, Graham admitted that she had pushed her husband off the cliff.

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