HELENA, Mont. – A newlywed bride accused of pushing her husband off a cliff to his death in Glacier National Park after having second thoughts about her marriage is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on murder charges.
Jordan Linn Graham, 22, will appear in U.S. District Court in Missoula on a new federal grand jury indictment charging her with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and making a false statement about the death of Cody Lee Johnson.
The first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison upon conviction.
Graham's federal public defender, Michael Donohoe, said last month that Graham was acting in self-defense and Johnson's death was an accident.
The Kalispell couple had been married for eight days when the 25-year-old Johnson disappeared on July 7. Graham originally told investigators that Johnson's "car buddies from Washington probably came and got him," according to the indictment.
Johnson was reported missing on July 8 when he did not show up at work, and Graham told investigators the next day she had seen a dark-colored car pulling out of their driveway, according to a statement by an FBI investigator filed with the court.
Two days later, Graham told a Glacier park ranger that she had found the body below the popular Loop area, the statement said.
Prosecutors say Graham lied and was with Johnson in Glacier National Park that night. She told investigators five days after that first interview that she and Johnson had an argument, were upset and decided to go to the Loop Trail.
Earlier that day, Johnson told a friend she was having second thoughts about getting married and meant to talk to Johnson about it. She said if the friend didn't hear from her again that night, "something happened," the FBI affidavit said.
Graham told investigators she and Johnson argued on the trail and it intensified. Johnson grabbed her arm as she turned to walk away and she pushed him with both hands in the back, causing him to fall head-first from a steep cliff, the affidavit said.
Graham previously appeared in court last month on a second-degree murder charge. She was released on her own recognizance after U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch ruled she wasn't a flight risk because of her strong community ties in Kalispell.