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'Cliff bride' sentenced to 30 years behind bars

NEED TO KNOW
  • Jordan Graham admitted to pushing her husband off a cliff in Montana just days after their wedding last year
  • A federal judge sentenced her to 360 months in prison
  • Her request to withdraw her guilty plea was also denied
'Cliff bride' sentenced to 30 years behind bars

'Cliff bride' wants guilty plea thrown out

'Cliff bride' wants guilty plea thrown out

Jordan Linn Graham, the woman who admitted to pushing her new husband off a cliff in Montana last year, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office told HLN.

She will serve the entire sentence -- there is no parole in the federal system -- and she will be put on supervised release for five years after that, according to Keri Leggett, a media coordinator with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Montana.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy denied the last-minute request Graham made this week to withdraw her guilty plea, which she entered during her federal trial in December.

In exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Graham had to tell the truth about what happened to Cody Johnson, who was her husband of eight days at the time of his death in July 2013.

"It was a reckless act," the 22-year-old told the judge. "I just pushed.”

Graham admitted to the court that she had second thoughts about her marriage and that she “wasn’t really happy.” She also told the judge, “I wasn’t thinking of where we were.”

According to court documents filed in the case, Graham told police she went with Johnson on July 7 to a hiking trail in Glacier National Park where 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.

Graham said she then turned around and removed Johnson's hand, and that’s when the tragedy happened.

“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,” reads the affidavit.

Johnson’s body was found four days later after Graham led them to the spot, according to the FBI.

As part of her plea deal, prosecutors dropped two charges against Graham: first-degree murder and lying to investigators.

The deal was made right before prosecutors and defense attorneys began their closing arguments during her federal trial last year. Jurors, who were not in the room when the deal was announced, had yet to begin deliberating her fate.

Graham was facing a maximum of life behind bars. The judge, however, had indicated that sentencing guidelines are flexible.

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