Jordan Graham’s Brother and Friends Testify About Growing Anger They Felt Toward Graham as Her Story Didn’t Match Up in the Disappearance of Her Newlywed Husband Cody Johnson
The second day of the Jordan Graham trial began with stories from people who were once her closest friends and confidants, until they started to grow concerned as the newlywed's story of her husband's disappearance kept changing and not "matching up."
The defendant's 16-year-old brother Rutledge began his testimony by painting a picture of the tight relationship he has with his sister. He described helping her with her nanny job, doing activities together and spending time at church together.
He said that on the night of July 7 he received a text message from his sister asking him to come over and spend the night because she and Johnson had gotten into a fight and she didn't want to be alone and was heading back from Hungry Horse.
Rutledge said that when he went over to Graham's house she told him that Johnson and her had gotten in a fight and that he had left with friends. She told him she saw him get into a dark car and drive away, and that was the last she saw of him. Rutledge said that on a later date Graham changed her story and told him that she followed the car Johnson was in.
Rutledge said that Graham did not mention being fearful of Johnson, nor did she make any other mention of his whereabouts.
Rutledge went to sleep on the couch that night and Graham woke him up around 6 a.m. the next day. When he woke up, Rutledge discovered he had a text message from Graham that she sent at 1:10 a.m. telling him that she was going to Kim's and that he was welcome to sleep on the couch or in her bed.
Rutledge was then shown an email from a person named Tony that was sent to Graham at 9:40 a.m. July 10. It began, " Hello Jordan, My name is Tony. There is no bother looking for Cody anymore. I saw your post on Twitter and thought I would email you..."
The letter goes on to read that Johnson went for a joyride with some friends to Glacier National Park and while they were hiking around up there he slipped and fell to his death.
It ends, "So call of the missing persons report. Cody is gone for sure."
Rutledge said it was the first time he had seen the email, but that his sister had read it aloud during one of their two trips to look for Johnson in Glacier National Park.
The first time Graham went looking for Johnson in Glacier, Rutledge and a couple of other people went with her. Their first stop was the loop, where Johnson's body was later found.
It was already dark out, as they went after she got off work and Rutledge was out of school. Rutledge said Graham insisted on looking down a trail for Johnson, though she was urged not to since it was so dark. Rutledge, who walked down the trail with her finally convinced her to return to the car.
The next day, July 11, Graham, Rutledge and a couple of other people went back to Glacier after school was out for the day. They hung missing person's posters on the way up to the loop, which was their first stop.
"I know Jordan was trying to look over the railing because it was too dangerous to go down there," Rutledge said. "She then tried to go down there in approximately three to five spots. She was climbing around and looking until she looked down and saw Cody."
Rutledge testified that when Graham announced that she saw him he went down to where she was on the cliff because he was in disbelief.
With tears in his eyes, Rutledge described the scene to the courtroom.
"I saw Cody laying face down," said Rutledge, followed by a long pause. "He looked like he was laying on a rock."
Despite being a part of the search party that found Johnson, Rutledge later told close family friend Levi Blasdel that park rangers were the ones who found Johnson. When questioned during testimony on why he lied, Rutledge said that he asked his sister who he should say found the body, "them or the park rangers," and she said to say it was the park rangers, but gave no explanation as to why.
As Rutledge continued his testimony under cross examination, he was asked if he had indeed helped Johnson's mom Sherry look through credit card accounts, and if she had approached him about deactivating her son's Facebook account. He confirmed both before talking about the relationship he had with Johnson in which they went hiking and four-wheeling together, as well as went to the gym.
Rutledge was then directed to recount more details about the trips to Glacier to search for Johnson. He was asked, "Jordan seemed quite focused on going to the loop, correct?
He agreed and then went on to elaborate.
"My thoughts were, why are we only going to this spot," Rutledge said. "The park is huge. Why aren't we going anywhere else? I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want anyone to be upset with me."
Rutledge was asked one final question before he was excused from the stand, though he is still under subpena and may be called to return to the stand later on in the trial.
"Are you mad at Jordan?" He was asked.
"Not so much anymore, but when I first found out yes," Rutledge said before tears began running down his face and he eventually broke down crying. "I guess the main reason would be, (he paused for a minute out of breath crying) she was asked to tell the truth. She told one lie and she was asked to tell the truth and she kept making more lies to cover it up."
Graham's Friend Kimberly Martinez Concludes Her Testimony From the Previous Day
Kimberly Martinez was in the midst of describing text messages she received from Graham the night of Johnson's death when the first day of trial ended. Her testimony picked back up this morning, Tuesday, Dec. 10, for the second day of the trial.
As Martinez found out about more details about the case she said she began to get angry at Graham.
"I was very upset with her," Martinez testified. " I told her, 'Your stories don't match up. 'I said, 'You need to get your stories straight.'"
Martinez said that the story she had been told was that Graham and Johnson had gotten into an argument and Graham had followed Johnson and his friends, who were in a car together.
In cross examination, Martinez, who agreed that she was like a "big sister" to Graham, described how she had listened to Graham talk about her feelings about her relationship with Johnson and continually urged her to talk to him directly. That Sunday, the day Johnson died, Graham told Martinez that she was going to talk with him.
When she heard from her later that night, Martinez said that Graham told her via text message that she had followed her husband, who was in a car with his friends.
Martinez said that when she spoke with Johnson's dad at a later date, she found out that Graham had given him a different story.
"I felt that Jordan knew more than she was telling me," Martinez said.
With inconsistencies popping up, Martinez decided to go to the police. She testified that at that point she felt like she didn't know anyone, neither Johnson or Graham.
Martinez was then asked, "Seeing what you saw, and knowing what you knew, was it fair to say that there was sort of an imbalance that he loved her more than she loved him, or at least showed it more?"
She replied, "Yes, he showed it more," and then agreed that Johnson would be crushed if Graham ended their relationship. Martinez also confirmed that she relayed this idea to the detective she spoke with at the Kalispell Police Department.
Former Friend Testifies About Text Messages Sent the Night of Johnson's Death
Nikki Blake, a 17-year-old junior at Glacier High School, admitted from the very beginning of her testimony that she no longer considered herself friends with Graham, saying "...we don't talk much anymore."
Blake is the friend who Graham was texting with about dance moves on her way back from Glacier National Park the night Johnson died. Blake said the conversation seemed normal in between reading texts aloud in the courtroom per instructions during her testimony.
Blake, who was visibly nervous throughout her testimony, said she had no idea that Johnson was missing until she was at work and heard Graham talking to her mom about it.
Blake said she also her something of interest at the daycare she worked at. Graham asked her brother, "How long does a body float in the water?" Blake doesn't remember what his response was.
Media Circus in Missoula
The story of the newlywed accused of pushing her husband from a cliff in Glacier National Park has done more than attract attention from Montanans. Representatives for CNN, Dateline and each of the national news syndicates have transcended on Russell E. Smith Federal Building. The story is leading headlines on everything from morning talk shows, including Good Morning America, and court shows, including Nancy Grace.
Although text messages are a leading topic surrounding this case, no cellphones or electrical devices of any kind are allowed in the federal building. Additionally, no cameras, video or photographic, are allowed either.
Members of the media accounted for nearly half of the 50 or so people that sat in the gallery of the courtroom at the start of the day. That number grew significantly after the morning recess around 10 a.m. There are at least three sketch artists in the courtroom documenting the imagery of the trial for respective news outlets.