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Bride pleads guilty in husband's cliff death

  • Jordan Linn Graham has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder for pushing her new husband off a cliff just days after wedding
  • Graham had claimed her husband's death was an accident
Bride pleads guilty in husband's cliff death

The Montana woman accused of pushing her new husband off a cliff in July reached a plea deal with prosecutors Thursday by agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree murder.

The plea deal means Jordan Linn Graham could be sentenced to life in prison.

In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors will waive a first-degree murder charge and a charge of lying to law enforcement.

The parties went into the judge's chambers to negotiate the deal after prosecutors and defense attorneys rested their cases Thursday following an emotional morning in court.

The day started with the defense presenting heartbreaking wedding videos to the jury in an attempt to establish that Graham and her husband, Cody L. Johnson, had a normal relationship.

The defense played the first dance video from the couple’s wedding reception as Johnson's father, Steven Rutledge, was on the stand. In the video, the jury could see the couple smiling, dancing and looking very much in love. This happy scene provided a stark contrast to the one in the courtroom. Johnson's mother was sobbing audibly, and a family friend wrapped her arms around her. Johnson’s 12 or so friends in attendance were also crying. 

Graham had already admitted to pushing Johnson in Glacier National Park on July 7, but she has claimed his death was an accident caused by an act of self-defense.

Read more: Newlywed sent cryptic text before husband's death

The couple had only been married for eight days when Johnson fell to his death. According to court documents filed in the case, Graham told police she went with Johnson to a popular hiking trail and an argument ensued.

“Graham stated their argument intensified. At one point in time during their arguing, Graham turned and began to walk away. She stated Johnson grabbed her by the arm,” reads an affidavit supporting the charges against Graham.

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Graham testified during a November 15 pre-trial hearing that “Cody had grabbed me and I thought he was going to push me down. My first instinct was to get him off."

In a court filing, the defense said Graham pushed Johnson away as she removed his hand from her arm, and her husband tumbled over the cliff.

But the criminal complaint filed against Graham says that in an FBI interview, "Graham stated she could have just walked away, but due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back and as a result, he fell face-first off the cliff."

-CNN's Kyung Lah contributed to this report

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