UPDATED: 5:44 p.m.
Less than a nine months after she shoved her husband off a steep cliff just days into their marriage, a federal judge sentenced Jordan Linn Graham to 30 years in prison Thursday.
Graham, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December, admitting to luring her new husband, Cody Johnson, to Glacier National Park and pushing him off a cliff.
She filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea on Wednesday, but the judge denied that request, federal prosecutors said.
In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a first-degree murder charge and a lying-to-investigators charge.
MONTANA – In a plea deal reached between the prosecution and defense, newlywed Jordan Linn Graham, accused of pushing her husband over a Montana cliff, has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for waiving a first-degree murder charge and a lying to investigators charge, the prosecutor said Thursday in court.
The deal was announced after the prosecution and defense rested their cases but before any closing arguments were made. There was a courtroom break after the defense rested.
Graham, 21, now faces a sentence of up to life in prison, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy said. Her minimum sentence could be 235 months, or 19 1/2 years, though sentencing guidelines are flexible, the judge said.
When the trial resumed, the judge said there were new developments, and the prosecution announced a deal had been made.
The jury was not in the room when the deal was announced.
Graham allegedly killed Cody Johnson, her husband of eight days, by pushing him over a cliff in Glacier National Park in July.
Prosecutors contended that Graham, 21, was having serious second thoughts about her marriage before her husband’s death and willfully lied to police after it.
But her defense lawyers argued that the death plunge was an accident resulting from an argument. Graham initially lied to police, they said, because she was afraid she wouldn’t be allowed to explain what happened on the cliff’s edge.
Her husband disappeared July 7. Four days later, the FBI said, Graham led friends and relatives to a popular spot in the park, where they found Johnson’s body.