Oral Argument Set for Jordan Graham Appeal of Murder Conviction

Judge will hear argument to appeal Kalispell woman’s murder conviction in Portland, Ore. on Nov. 3

By Justin Franz
During her 2013 murder trial, Jordan Graham leaves the Federal Courthouse in Missoula. - Beacon file photo

Attorneys for the Kalispell woman who pushed her husband of eight days off a cliff in Glacier National Park will be able to make their case for an appeal before a federal appellate judge in November.

Jordan Graham’s defense lawyers and federal prosecutors will meet in Portland, Ore. for oral arguments on Nov. 3, almost two years after she was convicted of second degree murder in the 2013 death of Cody Lee Johnson.

Graham’s attorneys appealed her conviction in October 2014, arguing that federal prosecutors distorted and withheld evidence in order to convince a jury that the woman had planned on murdering her newlywed husband. They also argue that the government breached its plea agreement when it asked for a life sentence and that her current sentence of 365 months in prison is too long a punishment for second-degree murder.

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 on the Going-to-the-Sun Road 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.

During her murder trial in December 2013, Graham agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder if prosecutors dropped the charges of first-degree murder and making false statements.

Then, just two days before her sentencing on March 27, 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.

District Judge Donald Molloy denied her request to withdraw the plea. Graham is currently incarcerated in a federal prison in Alabama.

 

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