(Reuters) — A Montana bride accused of
pushing her husband off a cliff to his death at Glacier National Park
asked a judge on Tuesday to withdraw a guilty plea she entered as part
of a deal with prosecutors to avoid a life sentence, court records show.
The bride, 22-year-old Jordan Graham, in December pleaded guilty
to second-degree murder in the July 7 death of her husband of eight
days, Cody Johnson. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a first-degree
murder charge, which alleges premeditation and carries a mandatory
The sentence sought by prosecutors exceeded the prison term
recommended by a pre-sentencing investigative panel, which advised a
term of 24 to 30 years, according to court documents. Defense sought
a 10-year sentence.
Sentencing in the high-profile case was scheduled for Thursday.
U.S. prosecutors claimed Graham deliberately shoved Johnson, 25, off
a cliff during an argument while hiking a steep trail at Glacier,
then lied to investigators and tried to cover up the crime.
After striking the December plea deal just as closing arguments in
her murder trial were set to begin, Graham admitted her guilt to
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who presided over the trial in
She told Molloy that her husband had grabbed her hand during the
marital dispute and that she "just pushed his hand off and just
Prosecutors last week recommended to the court that Graham be
sentenced to life or no less than 50 years in jail because of the
seriousness of her crime, her lack of remorse and the chance she
might commit another violent crime.
Michael Donahoe, Graham's federal defender, argued in legal
documents filed late on Tuesday that prosecutors had violated their
agreement with his client and asked the court to withdraw her guilty