MISSOULA – A Montana woman was sentenced Thursday to more than 30 years in prison for killing her husband of eight days by pushing him from a cliff in Glacier National Park after they argued over her regrets about the marriage.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said he saw no remorse from Jordan Graham, 22, in the killing of Cody Johnson, 25. He sentenced her to 30 years and five months in prison.
Graham will be subject to five years of court supervision upon her release. There is no possibility of parole in the federal system.
A tearful Graham took the stand during the sentencing hearing in Missoula, apologizing to her family and Johnson’s.
But Molloy indicated he had continuing doubts about the Kalispell woman’s honesty. The judge said he was waiting for Graham “to say she was sorry for killing Cody.”
Prosecutors said Graham lured Johnson to a steep cliff in Glacier Park on July 7 and pushed him over, then lied repeatedly to investigators in an attempt to cover up the crime.
She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just before closing arguments during her December trial but tried unsuccessfully to retract that plea after prosecutors recommended a prison term of 50 years to life.
Prosecutors dropped a first-degree murder charge when Graham changed her plea.
Graham addressed the judge and friends and family members during the hearing, crying throughout her testimony. She claimed to still love Johnson.
“It was a moment of complete shock and panic,” Graham said. “I have no other explanation.”
Federal prosecutors painted a more calculating picture of the defendant.
They said she drove away from the murder scene without checking to see if Johnson survived the fall. The absence of any drugs or alcohol in the case meant the defendant “was thinking very clearly,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kris Mclean said.
U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said he expects the defense to appeal Molloy’s sentence.