Newlywed's attorney: Husband's death in Glacier an accident

2013-09-14T06:15:00Z 2014-10-03T14:27:56Z Newlywed's attorney: Husband's death in Glacier an accident

A newlywed accused of pushing her husband to his death in Glacier National Park remained on house arrest Friday, despite efforts from prosecutors to return her to jail, while her lawyer said the fatal fall was an accident.

“I’m suggesting to your honor that this was an accident,” Michael Donahoe told U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy during a hearing the prosecution requested in hopes of revoking Jordan Linn Graham’s release.

Prosecutors, Donahoe said, are intentionally misrepresenting the events that took place on a Glacier Park trail to incite national media attention and win public favor. “And it’s not right.”

On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch ordered the 22-year-old Graham be released from jail and placed on house arrest pending trial. She is neither a flight nor a safety risk, he wrote in his nine-page decision.

On Friday, Molloy upheld Lynch’s decision and the conditions placed on Graham’s release, which include a stipulation that she undergo a mental health evaluation.

Graham faces a charge of second-degree murder after she allegedly pushed her husband of eight days, 25-year-old Cody Lee Johnson, off a cliff in Glacier Park during an argument.

Prosecutors want Graham to remain behind bars until the case is tried.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kris McLean maintained Friday that Graham is a risk to herself and the community, and asked Molloy to reweigh the seriousness of the crime and the weight of the evidence.

“If this was an accident, why didn’t she report it right away?” McLean argued.

In an interview July 16, Graham admitted pushing her husband from behind, causing him to fall face first off a cliff on The Loop trail.

During the same interview, she told law enforcement officers that she had made several false statements regarding Johnson’s disappearance, according to an affidavit filed in support of the prosecution’s case.

Her behavior brings into question what else she would do to cover up her alleged crime if released, McLean said.

“She is clearly capable of murder, if the allegations in the complaint are true,” he said.

Prosecutors also are worried about Graham’s mental health, McLean said, referring to text messages sent before Johnson’s disappearance, in which Graham told a friend she might as well kill herself. “Those types of feelings can only be magnified now.”


But Donahoe described a much different set of events on the night of July 7. And he said audio recordings of the same interview that largely formed the affidavit show Graham’s actions came in self-defense.

The interview in question took place in two parts, with Graham’s responses strung together as one in the court filing, Donahoe said.

The Kalispell couple did argue that night, and Johnson pinned Graham down on the bed at one point. He didn’t abuse her, Donahoe said, but he “controlled her movement.”

Johnson had never behaved toward Graham like that before, Donahoe said.

The argument continued as the couple later hiked in The Loop area of the Glacier Park, not far from Going-to-the-Sun Road.

According to the affidavit, Johnson grabbed Graham’s arm. Graham removed his hand and then pushed him from behind, sending him to his death over the cliff.

But the push was not a separate motion, Donahoe contended.

“This is all one motion, this grabbing, this pushing,” he said, accusing prosecutors of overcharging Graham and of using media to win over the court of public opinion.

“And it’s not right,” he said.

Donahoe admitted that Graham did partake in some deception.

“But they were post-event mistakes,” he said, not indications of malice and premeditation.

Graham will remain on house arrest in Kalispell pending trial. Conditions of her release stipulate she must submit to radio frequency monitoring and remain at her home in Kalispell, other than for religious services, medical treatment, attorney visits, court appearances and court-ordered obligations.

Lynch also ordered Graham to undergo a mental health evaluation, complete any recommended treatment and take any medications prescribed.

Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(17) Comments

  1. twinturtles
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    twinturtles - September 14, 2013 8:25 pm
    And of course her story changes, yet again!! She is facing some serious jail time in federal prison if she gets convicted and the victim is not here to tell everyone his side of the story, how convinent!!
  2. twinturtles
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    twinturtles - September 14, 2013 8:21 pm
    I do not understand how "it was an accident" can be used as a defense in this case. The accused confessed to pushing him off the cliff. The accused also waited 4 days before alerting anyone to his body. This alleged killer also lied several times about what happened the night her husband was pushed off a cliff. just these little things do not add up to "accidental". Not to mention if she lied several times before he was found about where he was when she knew the whole time who is to say she isn't lying about the "events of the evening" now? She has been proven a liar and she has already confessed to killing him. We should only be going to trial for a sentencing. Once a person confese they should no longer be presumed innocent, and now she is changing her story once again. What an upstanding person to get angry, push her husband to his death, get in the car, drive the hour and a half home and go to bed and not say a word for 4 days? But yes let's call it an accident, wow her defense lawyers need some help!!
  3. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - September 14, 2013 6:16 pm
    BENGAZI!!!! LOL!
  4. Sukey
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    Sukey - September 14, 2013 1:37 pm
    Any therapists out there? She clearly was trying to cover up what she did. She was angry, pushed back.She's a young girl, didn't know what to do, made all the wrong decisions. Could she have been in shock? If I killed my husband accidentally, I'm sure I"d be screaming for help but is it possible to act inappropriately because you're in shock?
  5. MontanaOnMyMind
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    MontanaOnMyMind - September 14, 2013 12:22 pm
    Is this now version 6 or 7 of what happened? If an accident a person wouldn't lie.
  6. Larry
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    Larry - September 14, 2013 11:59 am
    There is an eight letter word that is unprintable regarding her attorney claiming self defense! But why did it take the FBI two month before finally charging her? The story of her pushing him over the cliff was all over the Flathead a few days after his body was recovered including her confession. Hard to have faith in the FBI when considering this story as well as Bengazi!!!
  7. Bass Whacker
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    Bass Whacker - September 14, 2013 9:18 am
    And we know it was an accident because immediately after he went off the cliff she called for help and climbed down the cliff to render aid. Bazinga!
  8. monstermaker
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    monstermaker - September 14, 2013 8:58 am
    Hmm, shouldn't her lawyers know the success rate of the "I didn't mean to kill him" defense is zero?
  9. MT_Mama
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    MT_Mama - September 14, 2013 8:45 am
    “If this was an accident, why didn’t she report it right away?” [Assistant U.S. Atttorney} McLean argued.

    THIS. A thousand times, this. If I pushed my husband off a cliff accidentally I would be screaming like a banshee until I got the attention of anyone and everyone, plus a few rescue teams. You don't just push someone off a cliff "accidentally" and then do nothing. She has done nothing but lie, lie, and lie some more.
  10. Roger
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    Roger - September 14, 2013 8:08 am
    You're the fool. When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman told them that Martin had attacked him, and that he had shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and mouth; and had two vertical lacerations on the back of his head. EMTs treated Zimmerman at the scene, after which he was taken to the Sanford Police department where he was questioned for hours,taped a video statement, and was released without being arrested. Police said that they had not found evidence to contradict his assertion of self-defense.

    There were wounds on Martin's hands, but none on Zimmerman's. Both the front and the back of Zimmerman's head were suffered injuries. No similar wounds were found on Martin. Dr. Vincent Di Miao identified at least six major wounds that landed on Zimmerman's face and head.

    The women admitted that she pushed him off the cliff, killing him. You embarrass yourself.
  11. wildmtn
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    wildmtn - September 14, 2013 7:12 am
    Zimmerman did call for help and was told specifically not to follow the kid. Had he chosen to follow the order, Trayvon would not be dead. I suspect George is a wannabe cop trying to be the big man who held the suspect at gunpoint until the real cops arrived but adrenaline got pumping resulting in him shooting and killing an unarmed teenager. Considering his behavior since being acquitted, I don't know how anyone can keep defending him. I just hope he doesn't kill another innocent. This girl deserves the same due process. Hopefully she will get a clearer thinking jury and justice will be served but she'll probably claim she was in fear for her life. After all, that's all George had to do to be acquitted. I hope Cory's family can find some peace but imagining his last moments, his last thoughts as he realized what the woman he loved had just done, must be an unbearable burden for them. I doubt even her conviction will not ease that pain.
  12. Solarluna
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    Solarluna - September 14, 2013 3:17 am
    Just picture her other hand up as well and there she is pushing her husband off a cliff.
  13. PelosiGalore
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    PelosiGalore - September 13, 2013 10:23 pm
    The judge stated that the killer of her husband is not a danger to herself or others. Well, I guess as long as you don't turn you back to her......right? Shouldn't this clown judge order the mental health evaluation BEFORE releasing her.....NOT the other way around? Montana judges should all be force to wear big red ball noses and giant floppy shoes so that the public can instantly recognize them as a Montana judge and thank them in person every day for their incredible ineptitude and complete unwillingness to keep our community safe from killers and child molesters.
  14. M
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    M - September 13, 2013 8:35 pm
    Speaking of knowing nothing, you seem a little confused here, Roger. Martin ALLEDGEDLY banged Zimmerman's head on the ground, and you have no proof Martin was not acting in self defense. Just as you have no proof in this instance, which sadly does not appear to stop you from making a fool of yourself.

    The Missoulian used the proper terms--this woman is accused, not convicted. Her actions are alledged, not proven. That is how the law works. If that's a problem for you, might I suggest you ex-patriate to a nation that has not had "innocent until proven guilty" as a founding tenant for hundreds of years?
  15. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - September 13, 2013 1:05 pm
    You know and understand nothing - Zimmerman was on his back with Trayvon Martin on top of him, banging Zimmerman's head on the concrete sidewalk - but you say Zimmerman was supposed to call for help? Get real.

    This woman ADMITTED pushing him off the cliff, yet the Missoulian reports that she is ACCUSED of ALLEGEDLY pushing him, resulting in his death. There's no doubt that she did it. So Judge Malloy is out of line in confirming her release. She possibly planned the crime in advance, which is what I believe. She needs to be locked up.
  16. huckleberryhaven
    Report Abuse
    huckleberryhaven - September 13, 2013 12:54 pm
    With this womans free time spent at her parents house now, my guess is that that is the spin she will try to go ... changing her original story which was ....... "At one point, she turned to walk away, but Johnson grabbed her arm, she said. She turned around, removed his hand from her arm and "due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back, and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff," an affidavit states." ........ and saying how violent her husband was and she was acting in self defense, singing to the tune of 'poor me, poor me, poor me". I bet anything that is what the defense will try to portray. But, I hope the Prosecution has half a brain and will be able to squash that 'self defense' act. This woman has clearly lied from day one and anything she says at this point, is just trying to save her own arse and nothing else.
  17. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - September 13, 2013 11:27 am
    Specualtion.......starting to appear that there was physical violence between the two and that her INTENT was to protect herself not kill the guy. Only thing that makes sense in the court allowing her freedom without bond???? I understand we have to wait for the trial but seems kind of strange to me you let someone out of jail who absolutely was out to kill someone...I am not an attorney though and it also seemed to me George Zimmerman was an idiot control freak who murdered Trayvon Martin when he could have called the police and left the scene etc. So what do I know?
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