Testimonies in Jordan Graham Trial Give First Hints at Prosecutions Case for Premeditated Murder
It's the third day of the Jordan Graham murder trial, and although many have testified that Graham did not act "normal" either before or after the death of her newlywed husband Cody Johnson, little has been discussed that might point to a predetermined plan by Graham to kill her husband: a case the prosecution must make to convict Graham of first degree murder.
Today, Dec. 11, two testimonies by church friends indicated that Graham may have planned a "surprise" for Johnson, the very same night that he is thought to have died in Glacier National Park from a severe fall.
A close friend of Johnson's, Brad Blasdel said that he invited Johnson out to eat for lunch after church, but that Johnson said he couldn't because "Jordan had a big surprise for him" with excitement.
Later at evening service, Blasdel asked what the surprise was and was told, "there wasn't anything."
A later testimony by another friend, Eddie Colon, revealed a similar planned surprised, but this one had more nuance. Colon testified that when asked if he could go golfing, Johnson said, "She says she has a surprise for me, says she has friends coming from out of town."
Although the prosecution has not yet added their interpretation of this statement, the "friends coming from out of town" message is consistent with the stories Graham told after Johnson's disappearance about "out-of-town" buddies that took him away in a dark sports car. A story that was later shown to be fabricated. Additionally, Graham told investigators that she did not know the out-of-town friends that Johnson was with, nor had she met any of his friends from out of town, except for one, who she said she checked with after his disappearance.
Graham's stepfather, Stephen Rutledge, also recounted an encounter with Johnson the day of his death in which Johnson told Rutledge that he couldn't go kayaking because Graham had a surprise planned for him
Other potential elements of premeditation involve a life insurance policy discussed with Johnson's mother, Sherry Johnson. She took the policy out on Johnson when he was 4 months old.
Sherri's tearful testimony was marked by sadness at the mention of Graham's wedding to Johnson. Sherri was asked about a life insurance policy with a payout between $18,000 and $24,000 that's original beneficiary was Johnson's deceased father.
Cross examination by the defense revealed that Sherri did not know if Graham also knew about the life insurance policy. It was not revealed if Graham would have been the beneficiary or not.
Speculation Builds Around Money
Two bank tellers testified this afternoon regarding transactions made by Graham. A teller from U.S. Bank said Graham deposited $3,000 cash in $100 bills, as well as a check from Home Depot for $1,235.95. There was also a disbursement request and authorization signed by Graham and her mom at Rocky Mountain Bank. All of these transactions took place on July 11.
Jordan Graham Changes Her Story
FBI Agent Stacey Smiedal testified that on July 16 he took Graham's confession that she made false statements regarding the disappearance of her husband. The interview was recorded in two separate segments. The first recording describes an argument and confession that Johnson grab her and pulled on her, and in response Graham pushed him and he fell off the cliff to his death.
During the second recording, Graham is asked what the surprise is that Johnson's friends have mentioned in their interviews. Graham replied, "I wanted to kind of plan something big for him...A big barbecue with all of his friends."
Smiedal also asked Graham if Johnson was wearing his wedding ring when he fell off the cliff. Graham said, "Yes, he never takes it off."
The coroner testified earlier in the day, and photo exhibits also showed, that Johnson was not wearing his wedding ring when he was found in the pool of water underneath the cliff.