Montana News

Dec 10, 2013 11:35 AM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News

Best friend says Graham told her of marriage troubles day after honeymoon

MISSOULA - A Kalispell bride accused of pushing her husband over a cliff in Glacier National Park told her best friend she was "afraid to say no" to her husband's advances just days after they were married. But that same friend says she never saw Cody Johnson show his temper to Jordan Graham.

With U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy pressing to get Graham's murder trial completed this week, a jury was selected and ready to hear testimony by Monday afternoon.

In opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kris McLean said Cody Johnson fell "head over heels" in love with Graham when they met in the fall of 2011, saying he was "giddy" on their wedding day last July.

But just eight days later, Johnson was dead, lying in a pool of water at the bottom of a cliff below the parking area at The Loop Trail off the Going-to-the-Sun Road. McLean says prosecutors will show the jury how Graham pushed Johnson to his death, falling face first over the cliff after Johnson shoved in the back. The prosecution hopes to show Graham lied repeatedly to cover her crime.

However, defense attorneys say they are not disputing that Graham played a "central role" in her husband's death. They say the fall was an accident that happened during a very emotional argument on the edge of a cliff, a dangerous spot "the size of a phone booth." Defense attorney Andy Hill says the "grab, push and fall" was "spontaneous", and then Graham "ran from reality" like a "frightened rabbit" or a "mouse caught in a maze", telling "lies and more lies" because she was "scared."

Much of this trial was focus on Graham's mental state, depending on thousands of text messages before and after the wedding and Johnson's death.

During initial testimony Monday afternoon, a friend of the couple, Kimberly Martinez read messages from Graham, relating how the younger woman had a "bit of a meltdown" on their honeymoon, saying she didn't know if getting married "was the right thing to do". She continued texting she couldn't "pull herself together" especially when Johnson "wanted to do stuff" but when she wanted to "say no", all the while afraid of Johnson's temper. Martinez took that to mean the couple was having problems with sex.

This trial is expected to continue on a very rapid pace. After a full day Monday its back in court at 8:15 on Tuesday morning as this hearing continues.

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