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Newlywed Murder Case Moves Toward Trial
The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 9 in U.S. District Court in Missoula
A judge’s Dec. 2 order denying in part and granting in part a defense motion to dismiss murder charges against Jordan Linn Graham, who is indicted for allegedly pushing her husband off a cliff in Glacier National Park, clears the way for the trial to begin Dec. 9 in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

In the past week, documents filed in the case against Graham, 22, offer reasons why jurors should be allowed to hear evidence that she allegedly lied about being abused by former boyfriends, as well as evidence she told an acquaintance that she could kill her parents.

Graham is charged with first-degree murder in the July 7 death of Cody Lee Johnson, just eight days after their wedding. Jurors would also be given the option to convict her of second-degree murder. She is also charged with making false statements to authorities.

Graham’s attorneys have said she pushed Johnson, 25, in self defense.

Prosecutors say they have evidence that Graham lied about being abused in previous relationships, and that the statements Graham reportedly made in June about her mother and stepfather suggest that there was intent behind her husband’s death.

“Presumably, her claims of self-defense revolve around allegations that Mr. Johnson had held her down for the purposes of talking, a position she has already advanced,” the documents read. Prosecutors say the evidence that she fabricated allegations of abuse in other relationships speaks to her state of mind and credibility.

According to documents filed by Graham’s attorneys last month, plea negotiations stalled on Nov. 20.

Federal defender Michael Donahoe said he sought a settlement conference, but prosecutors said they could not plea bargain because the solicitor general has taken the position that such a meeting violates a federal rule of criminal procedure.

Donahoe is asking that prosecutors be required to explain their position.

Prosecutors have indicated they will call as many as 87 witnesses, and have sent nearly 9,000 pages of discovery to defense attorneys. Prosecutors have also disclosed 20 hours of video recordings and 4,146 images.

Matthew Salacinski, a special agent with the FBI, also culled numerous text messages from cell phones that will be introduced.

On Dec. 2, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy issued a lengthy order on three defense motions to dismiss the indictment, strike the first-degree murder charge from the indictment and, finally, to grant appropriate relief based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Molloy denied the first two requests, but said the third request “is more difficult and merits a remedy” as to what portions of Graham’s interviews with law enforcement can be considered as evidence by the jury.

On Nov. 15, Graham testified that an FBI agent improperly interviewed her, did not record portions of the interview and made her feel uncomfortable by touching her knee.

She said she felt uncomfortable in a July 16 interview with FBI Agent Stacey Smiedala during which she dropped her previous claims that Johnson had driven off with friends.

Donahoe alleges Smiedala interrogated Graham alone and unrecorded for nearly 1 1/2 hours so that he could “shape” her statement to get Graham to admit she acted not instinctively, but in the “heat of passion,” an element required to prove manslaughter charges.

“The procedure employed by the FBI in interviewing Graham creates serious questions concerning the potential for shaping or manipulating interview evidence to fit the prosecution’s perspective about the events that took place at the ‘Loop’ in Glacier National Park,” Molloy wrote.

RELATED: Judge Won’t Dismiss Murder Charge Against Kalispell Bride

RELATED: Newlywed Charged with Murder of Husband in Glacier Park

RELATED: Newlywed Woman Released from Jail in Alleged Glacier Park Murder Case
 
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