Newlywed murder trial begins
HELENA, Mont. — The bride was having second thoughts eight days after the wedding, sparking an argument between the newlywed couple that carried from their Kalispell, Mont., home to a popular trail in Glacier National Park.
Only Jordan Graham left the park alive the night of July 7.
Now it will be up to a jury to decide what happened and whether the 22-year-old woman should be convicted of murder in the death of Cody Johnson.
Graham’s trial begins today in U.S. District Court in Missoula with jury selection and is expected to last one to two weeks with dozens of expert witnesses — though no eyewitnesses — slated to testify.
Federal prosecutors will attempt to convince jurors that Graham deliberately pushed Johnson to his death, then made up a story about how he was last seen driving off with friends. Graham’s federal public defenders will ask jurors to believe that while Graham thought she married too young, she loved Johnson and was only trying to remove his hand from her arm when he fell off the steep cliff.
Graham has pleaded innocent to murder and making a false statement.
Graham was indicted in October, and there have been a flurry of motions in the lead-up to trial. In one of the most recent filings, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy last week (Dec. 2) rejected an attempt by Graham’s attorneys to have the indictment dismissed because of an FBI agent’s interrogation techniques.
Graham initially told investigators that Johnson, 25, had driven away with friends the night of July 7. Three days later, she led park rangers to his body so the search would be called off “and the cops will be out of it,” according to prosecutors’ court filings.
Her discovery of the body prompted investigators to call Graham back for further questioning under FBI investigator Stacey Smiedala on July 16. Graham agreed to be interviewed without a lawyer present and to take a polygraph test, though one was never administered, according to prosecutors.MORE IN This Just In
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