Prosecution, defense file trial plans in Kalispell newlywed murder case


Prosecution, defense file trial plans in Kalispell newlywed murder case

MISSOULA, Mont. - U.S. attorneys and federal defenders filed trial briefs in the case of Kalispell newlywed accused of murdering her husband.

The documents and a flurry of others were filed in federal court late Thursday afternoon. The trial for Jordan Linn Graham is scheduled to begin Monday. Graham is accused of pushing her husband of just eight days, Cody Lee Johnson, off a cliff in Glacier National Park in July.

U.S attorneys say their case against Graham will be built around her behavior before and after Johnson's death.

The brief says they plan to call approximately 39 witnesses; the majority of them will be people who know Graham and Johnson. The rest of the witnesses will be law enforcement.

In addition U.S. attorneys wrote they'll use text messages Graham exchanged with friends,  emails she allegedly sent from a fake email account, and photos and physical evidence recovered from the crime scene, including a cloth they say could have been used a blindfold Johnson.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled Thursday that if the piece of cloth is accepted as evidence "the jury will be given either a limiting instruction or told to disregard the evidence as irrelevant to any issue for its determination in the case." In an order Molloy said the prosecution has yet to prove the cloth has anything to do with the case.

The defense filed a much shorter document for its trial brief. It centers on self defense. The brief says Johnson walked down to a steep ledge, grabbed Graham first, so it was her instinct to push back. Graham says Johnson lost his balance and fell down the cliff to his death.

Graham's defense team says witnesses will testify Graham changed Johnson; the brief says he began attending church and stopped drinking after meeting Graham. Church members will testify at trial.

The defense goes on to write that one of Johnson's friends broke into the townhouse Graham and Johnson shared to look for evidence, searching the crawl space and trunk of the car for a body and checking the laundry for bloody rags. The defense says that this is when rumors of murder started and Graham shut down.

In addition to the briefs from both parties, jury questions, instructions, and a sample verdict were filed late Thursday.

Jury selection for the case starts Monday morning. 150 people have been summoned for the potential jury pool, 12 will be selected.

Graham faces first and second degree murder charges and a third charge for lying to authorities.

Click here to read the prosecution trial brief.

Click here to read the defense trial brief.

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