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Continued: Judge cites lack of remorse, gives newlywed bride more than 30 years for Glacier Park murder

  • Article by: , Associated Press
  • Last update: March 28, 2014 - 7:17 AM

They described their client's actions as "extremely reckless but unintentional" and argued that a 10-year sentence was appropriate. They also portrayed her lies to investigators as "distorted statements" that Graham later sought to clarify because she could not bear the burden of her guilt.

"Embedded within her false narrative were pieces of the truth that the defendant would ultimately reveal (to law enforcement) in pursuit of catharsis," her attorney's wrote in documents submitted to the court earlier this month.

Before he accepted her plea, the judge asked Graham to tell him what happened.

Graham said she wanted to confront her husband about her marriage doubts but did not know how he would take it. She said the couple climbed down a treacherous slope below a popular spot in the park called The Loop and spoke on a narrow ledge, hundreds of feet above a ravine.

She told Johnson she was unhappy, they argued, and at one point, she said, he grabbed her by the arm, and she thought he was going to pull her.

She told the judge she got angry at Johnson, brushed his hand away, then pushed him, with one hand on his arm and one on his back.

"I wasn't thinking about where we were. ... I just pushed," Graham said.

Graham initially told investigators that Johnson left their house on July 7 with unknown friends. But Johnson's friends testified they were suspicious of the story and suspected Graham played a role in his disappearance. Graham showed police a fabricated email — purportedly from a friend of Johnson — that said Johnson was dead and to call off the search.

Ultimately, Graham acknowledged she was with Johnson on the cliff after investigators confronted her with a security camera photo of the couple entering the park.

Prosecutors presented dozens of text messages between Graham and a friend from church that documented how Graham's nervous excitement at the prospect of the wedding turned into despair over the week that followed.

Johnson was reported missing on July 8 when he failed to show up for work. His body was found three days later when Graham led a group of searchers to where she'd pushed him off the cliff.

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