Mar 27, 2014 2:47 PM by KPAX News Staff
MISSOULA - The Kalispell woman who's accused of killing her husband of eight days by pushing him of a cliff at Glacier National Park will be spending the next 30 years behind bars.
Jordan Graham was sentenced to 365 months in prison, followed by five years supervised release on Thursday afternoon in a Missoula federal court in connection with last summer's death of Cody Johnson. The punishment is on the high end of federal sentencing guidelines.
She was being tried on First Degree Murder charges last December - and was nearing the end of the trial - when she suddenly decided to accept the prosecution's offer to plead guilty to Second Degree Murder instead.
Judge Donald Molloy rejected a request by defense attorneys to withdraw Graham's guilty plea early Thursday, which allowed the sentencing hearing to continue.
Federal prosecutors said that during Graham's trial, several witnesses testified that on July 7, 2013 Cody said Graham had a surprise planned for him later that day. They add that Graham lured Johnson to Glacier National Park with the promise of a big surprise and pushed him from a cliff to his death.
On July 8, 2013, multiple people reported Cody missing to the Kalispell Police Department, but the defendant was not one of them. During the next few days the defendant continued to communicate with numerous people in the Kalispell community, often via text message, about what had happened to Cody.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, Kalispell Police Department, Flathead County Sheriff's Office and Parks Canada.
Prosecutors had asked that Graham be sent to prison for the rest of her life, but earlier this week, defense attorneys accused prosecutors of "bad faith" in pressing for the life sentence while accusing Graham of planning her husband's death - saying that was included in the first degree charge.
Assistant U.S. Attorney's Zeno Baucus and Kris McLean had said that Judge Molloy should deny that request, saying that the court already determined there was "sufficient evidence" to support both murder counts, both of which include the potential of a maximum life prison sentence.
We'll have much more on this developing story as information becomes available.