Investigators twisted the statements of a newlywed bride to make it appear as though she deliberately pushed her husband to his death in Glacier National Park, an attorney for the woman claimed.
FBI investigator Stacey Smiedala also sent a police detective from the room so he could "shape" Jordan Graham's initial 1 ½-hour interrogation on July 16 without having to record it, as is required in all investigations in the state of Montana, attorney Michael Donahoe said in court filings late Friday.
As a result, Graham's statements that the death of Cody Johnson was an accident, followed by her fear and panic that nobody would believe her, were manipulated and then distorted into an exaggerated version of what happened, Donahoe said.
Federal prosecutors do not respond to media queries about active cases, and they have not filed a response to Donahoe's claims.
Donahoe included a transcript of the recorded portion of the interview in which Graham said she and Johnson argued eight days after their wedding about whether they should have waited longer to get married. She said Johnson suggested driving to Glacier, where they continued to talk at the edge of a cliff.
Graham, 22, said Johnson, 25, was talking to her like she was a child and grabbed her arm. She said she knocked his arm off and pushed him in one motion, causing him to fall.
"I think I didn't realize that one push would mean for sure you were over," Graham said, according to the transcript. "I felt like I shouldn't have gotten married at that time, but not, there were not any issues of being with Cody, no. I feel like he's the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with."
Donahoe's court filings are the first extended look at the defense planned by Graham. She initially said Johnson had disappeared July 7 after driving off with friends, but then she led park rangers to his body three days later so the search would be called off "and the cops will be out of it," according to prosecutors' court filings.
A trial is set for Dec. 9. Federal prosecutors have asked for a delay.
Donahoe is asking a federal judge to dismiss the murder indictment against Graham, to block prosecutors from using her July 16 statement and to prevent prosecutors from introducing a new theory that Graham blindfolded Johnson before pushing him.
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