Wednesday July 29, 2015
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Is this little lady telling the truth?
I'll give you the facts. You make up your mind.
Twenty-two year old Jordan Graham married Cody Johnson on June 30, 2013 even though she confided with a friend, saying that she was having second thoughts about him.
Right after the marriage the couple went to Glacier National Park, where they hiked a steep trail on their eighth day of "wedded bliss."
After the couple apparently returned home family and friends became concerned about the absence of Cody Johnson. They asked Jordan about it, and according to documents they filed she explained that he had "texted her to say he was going for a drive with friends and that she believed he was in a dark-colored car that pulled out of the couple's driveway that night."
The friends and relatives, concerned about Cody's continued absence, notified the authorities.
After an investigation, Jordan was charged in September with second-degree murder in the July 7th death of her husband.
That was not good enough for federal prosecutors who filed their own case because Cody Johnson died in a fall on federal land — Glacier National Park. They filed first degree murder charges against Jordan Johnson, who has now pleaded innocent to both sets of charges.
• How did Cody Johnson come to be found dead at the base of a cliff in Glacier National Park?
• Why did the feds file charges?
"In a sworn statement filed with the court, FBI Special Agent Steven Liss said that [Jordan] argued with her husband and expressed doubts about their marriage before pushing him off a cliff in Glacier National Park."
Agent Liss added, "[Jordan] stated she could have just walked away, but due to anger, she pushed [Cody] with both hands in the back, and as a result he fell face first off the cliff."
Jordan's attorney has stated that his client was acting in self-defense. At a court hearing last month he said Liss and other federal agents mischaracterized her statements during audio-taped interviews.
He added that the incident on the cliff involving Cody's grabbing and Jordan's pushing were "all one motion" and that his client's actions constituted "a self-defense kind of thing."
It will be a while before this comes to trial, but it sounds as though it's a case where your opinion, whatever it may be, will be the same one a jury might have.
So tell me. What is it?
Will seeing the faces of the bride and groom help? here they are:
Welcome back. Did the pictures help you make up your mind?
Does seeing people's faces help you to make a judgment about them?
I'd really like to know the answer to that question: Does seeing someone's face help you to make a judgment about him or her?
Not a good sound, fair judgment based on facts.
Human nature is such that if a persons appearance is pleasing to our eye, we assign more positive attributes to them, whereas if their appearance is less than pleasing to our eye, It is easier to assign negative attributes.
Take for example, Scott Peterson, accused of murdering his wife and unborn son. It is my contention that his trial went on far longer than it would have had he been less good looking. People have trouble believing that an attractive person could be guilty of a heinous crime.
Which is why I did not look at the pictures that you linked to.
I loved your answer!
I thought I had done something clever by putting up some pics. I read your answer with interest, waiting for the moment when you would comment on how looking at the faces helped you make up your mind what to say. Then I came to the end of your answer and saw that you had deliberately avoided looking at the photographs so that you would not be prejudiced by them, which — of course! — made the point perfectly. I'm still laughing. Thanks!
There are some questions about this story which I feel sure you would all like to comment on because they touch on you and me as the fallible human beings we are. Let's be honest with ourselves, put ourselves in the same situation, and think about what we would do.
• First of all, the story makes it clear that Jordan Johnson is being accused of first degree murder based entirely on her own statements. That brings up some good questions:
In a situation like this one should she have refused to make a statement? Would you have?
Should a person be charged with first degree murder based on nothing more than his or her own statements? With no eye witness testimony to tell what really happened, how can anyone be sure that a few words aren't being used to characterize some event as something quite different from what it actually was?
What could have been done to her if she simply refused to say a single word?
• How does the fact that Jordan lied about where Cody went affect your opinion? Does it make her look guilty to you, or just frightened?
• What would you do if something like this happened to you? Would you place yourself — and your life — in the hands of law enforcement? Or would you hunker down, get a lawyer, and go into self-defense mode?
Of course there's the bottom line question, which is what really happened out their in the national forest.
If you'd like to read more about this, please click on this link:
"In a situation like this one should she have refused to make a statement? Would you have?" As a good, decent, God-loving person, of course she should not have refused to make a statement. Absolutely, I would have.
"Should a person be charged with first degree murder based on nothing more than his or her own statements? With no eye witness testimony to tell what really happened, how can anyone be sure that a few words aren't being used to characterize some event as something quite different from what it actually was?" Of course they should. Who else knows exactly what happened in any situation.
"What could have been done to her if she simply refused to say a single word?" Hmmm, I still think that the entire scenario looks guilty.
"How does the fact that Jordan lied about where Cody went affect your opinion? Does it make her look guilty to you, or just frightened?" Her lie affects my opinion entirely. It makes her look guilty.
"What would you do if something like this happened to you? Would you place yourself — and your life — in the hands of law enforcement? Or would you hunker down, get a lawyer, and go into self-defense mode?" Of course I would place myself in the hands of law enforcement. If I did something so heinous, I believe that I would deserve whatever punishment was meted out.
Regardless of whatever they may have been fighting about while they were hiking, he was the man she had quite recently married. If she had truly loved him, or even liked him as a person, or even not liked him and realized she made a mistake marrying him, the minute he went off the cliff, she should have been nearly hysterical at what she had done to another human being. She should have tried making phone calls, run to find the nearest help, done something to get help for him and for herself. She should NOT have calmly left the park and gone home. She should NOT have lied to family, friends and co-workers about where he was. She should NOT have concocted some lame story to excuse where he was. In my opinion, the minute she decided to lie, was the minute she was guilty of murder. Perhaps not premeditated murder, but murder, nonetheless.
I'm going to add a little more to the story so that we can discuss things better. But first I have to ask Kim a question. " As a good, decent, God-loving person, of course she should not have refused to make a statement. Absolutely, I would have." Kim, I'm not quite sure if you mean that you would have made a statement or would have refused to make one. Could you please clarify? Thanks.
Regarding whether or not someone should be charged with first degree murder based only on their statements, I should have added "If their statements clearly say that it was not first degree murder." If someone admits first degree murder, then that's that, but if they deny it the issue becomes one of taking her words and making them mean something she denies.
Here's what I mean: In talking to her lawyer (who is court appointed because she can't afford a good one) she said that the pushing and shoving at the top of that cliff were "all one motion" and that it was "self-defense." That is very different from the way FBI Special Agent Steven Liss characterizes what she said. Liss says, "Graham stated she could have just walked away, but due to anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back, and as a result he fell face first off the cliff."
Four things about that statement worry me. See if they don't worry you too.
One is that all through his comments, and all through the resulting article, Liss refers to Jordan Johnson as "Graham," calling her by her maiden name. That's avery subtle, but I have seen it done many times when someone is trying to make husband and wife seem like enemies. Its purpose is to skew the jury pool's thinking against the accused.
Another is that he is sure to mention the term "anger" regarding Jordan Johnson, but says not a word about the anger in her husband, which is what started the spat in the first place since he was the one who started the pushing. You know why I am so sensitive to such things? Because I've taken criminology courses, and they specifically point out how such terminology is used to load up the potential juror pool with negative beliefs about an accused. Very subtle, but frighteningly effective.
The third thing is that he has apparently turned the woman's comment that she did not hit or punch her husband, a question he was trained to ask, into a statement that she deliberately pushed him. That's a big one! I have read how to do that.
You ask, "Did your husband strike you with his fists?"
"Oh, no; he just pushed me."
"Did you punch him?"
"Oh, no; I just pushed back."
"So, you only pushed him with both hands?"
You see? He has just made her statement sound like it was a deliberate hard push with both hands.
Finally, he points out that she pushed him in the back. Trust me, he used the same questioning technique to elicit that comment. All you have to do is ask whether or not she struck him in the face, and carry on from there.
I'm adding more to this string post to show how I have actually seen the techniques used that I read about in criminology course textbooks.
And I'll bet they've been used on you too! You just didn't know it.
I took criminology while in the Air Force because I taught military law. It helped me understand some law basics, and it added to what I knew when I later taught school law for Chapman University. It is amazing how much I learned from those textbooks. I think everyone should take a basic criminology course for his or her own protection. Everyone needs to know the questioning techniques used.
Over in England, while we were living in the prettiest little village you have ever seen —Cropredy, which dates way back and was the site of the Battle of Cropredy Bridge during the time of Charles II. We loved it! David and Francis were 12 and 10, and Lolly and I bought them a pretty little white rabbit they could keep in our backyard. I built a hutch for them, putting it up off the ground on four low legs, lining it with insulation for the chill winter, and making it so that it top and one side of its front hinged open.
Oh, how the kids loved that rabbit! Me too! And Lolly, of course. It was the most spoiled animal my family ever had!
When we moved onto RAF Upper Heyford I added a lock to the hutch because, unlike our nicely walled backyard in Cropredy, the yards back of the houses on-base were all open, both to each other and to the street.
Four houses up our street another family had a rabbit in a hutch. Poor thing! The hutch was right on the damp ground and barely the size of the rabbit. I was going to build them a new one when something terrible happened.
Someone came through the housing area one dark night, tried to kick open our hutch and failed. I reported it to the Air Police, they came and looked, but nothing happened. I curse myself for not taking the hutch to Betty and Peter's place in Slough where it would have been safe in a closed backyard, but instead I lost a lot of sleep watching out the back windows for any repetition of the incident, saw nothing, and put it down to some stupid, random act.
Then one Sunday morning the kids yelled for me and I found the lock cut off the hutch and the rabbit gone. I made a search, hoping I would find their rabbit for them.
And I did, but I almost wish I hadn't. I found the poor thing with its ears cut off and stomped into the grass of a small playground in the housing area. Once again I called the Air Police, but again they turned up nothing.
(sadly, there's more)
I then did one of the most stupid things I have ever done; I repaired the hutch and gave it to the people up the street. What an idiot! You know what happened, of course. Their little hutch had probably been almost invisible at night, but the larger one wasn't, and whoever it was that broke into it the first time did it again.
Another missing rabbit.
I got a call from Lolly at work telling me what had happened. I rode a bike to work every day, and come home for lunch, so I turned aside that noon and went by the place where our rabbit had been found. I didn't really think I'd find anything, but there it was: The same disgusting thing. I called the Air Police when I got home.
In a criminology course I had taken I had learned that one ploy the police use when questioning a suspect is to ask this question: "Why do you think someone would do something like that?"
Studies show that most of the time an innocent person will just say, "I don't know," but a guilty party will often offer some logical reason to explain away what happened, such as, "Well, we're having a lot of racial tension between NCO's and black airmen right now. It could be that some black kid went through the housing area to get a little revenge."
It's also possible that someone who is totally innocent might say the same thing, but the police work on the theory that if you try to explain why something might have occurred you may very well be the one who did it. They then focus on you!
That afternoon at work i was called out of my classroom, where I was instructing a teaching methods course, for a phone call. It was an Air Police investigator. He asked me if I was the one who had found the rabbit. I said yes. He talked for a minute or so about what a terrible thing it was. And then? A shock! He asked me, "Why do you think someone would do such a thing?"
I knew instantly that he thought I was a suspect. And from that day to this I have been very careful how I answer questions. And it's a good thing too! I'm a guy who is filled with ideas. I could easily get myself into trouble. Just a year or two back someone was going through our neighborhood up in Pine and shooting windshields. What do you suppose the deputy that I talked to about it when I called the Sheriff's office asked me?
You got it!
"Why do you think someone would do such a thing?"
It turned out to be some dumb kids who were walking up and down the creek now and then; they had an air rifle.
It pays to know something about law enforcement tactics. And it pays even more to understand how easy it is to mischaracterize someone's words.
To answer your question, Tom. I meant that I would make a statement.
Believe me, I know an awful lot about using words to manipulate a situation. I do it myself. However, for me, the bottom line is that this young woman willfully and deliberately left the scene where her brand new husband fell or was pushed to his death. She then compounded that act by lying and behaving as though she had no idea what had happened to her husband. To me, those acts speak volumes.
There is a cute saying, "love is taking care of someone even when you are mad at them." It doesn't say, love is pushing someone off a cliff and then lying about it because you decided you didn't want to be married, you just wanted the beautiful wedding.
Kim, I'm chuckling right now.
I like what you said about love: "love is taking care of someone even when you are mad at them."
I read it and started to comment on something else when my twisted mind realized that for some people it's more like, "love is taking care of someone when you are mad at them."
I chuckled because of the difference one word can make in a sentence, but maybe that's because of all those gangster movies I saw back in the thirties, when someone would say, "take care of this guy."
As to whether this young woman is guilty or not, I can't find it in my heart to be as sure as you are. She's only twenty, and was no doubt scared to death. In fact, that would be my opinion why she ran off the way she did. It was a stupid thing to do, something almost certain to cause questions.
I suspect that her story about the argument and the pushing is exactly correct, namely that they were pushing each other, he slipped when she pushed him, and over he went. In a state of nature, where people are not held to such strict limitations, it would have been called a "tragic accident." In our you-gotta-be-perfeck society people are held to standards that prosecutors and others break every day with absolute impunity.
It seems to be that she was young, scared, and not too bright. A hard hearted person would simply have thought for a minute, looked around, made sure no one had observed what happened, and started screaming for help. With no one to say what happened all she would have had to do was say he went too close to the edge, slipped, and was gone. That and a few tears and her story would have been back page news on a tragic honeymoon accident.
I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just putting what she did in a different light. You know what? There was a recent case down in Australia which I decided not to put up on the forum. I'll put it up now for everyone to read so the difference in how people act. Might be interesting for you. I'll just put up the story, no comment.
For once I have useful follow-up information on a case.
To begin with, we now have witness descriptions of Jordan Johnson, the accused, and Cody Johnson, her husband .
Cody Johnson is described as 25, someone who "liked to race cars, drink beer, play softball and hang out with friends."
Jordan Johnson is described as a 21 year old, "naive, immature and shy woman who deals better with the children she watched over as a day care worker than with most adults."
Jordan had strong doubts about marrying Cody, but Cody, to his credit, changed for her when they started dating; he started going to church and stopped most of his drinking.
Evidence shows that Jordan sent a text message to a friend the night before the day that Cody went over the cliff, saying that after several days of marriage she was having doubts about Cody.
A jury of eight men and four women has been selected.
Federal prosecutors will attempt to convince jurors that Jordan deliberately pushed Johnson to his death. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno Baucus has written in his brief that Jordan had told Johnson before the wedding that she had a "surprise" planned for him. Apparently, that comment will made before the jury as evidence that the killing was premeditated.
Jordan's federal public defenders will ask jurors to believe that while Jordan thought she married too young, she loved Cody and was only trying to remove his hand from her arm when he fell.
Jordan agreed to be interviewed without a lawyer present. She also agreed to take a polygraph test. She was then questioned by a federal investigator for two hours. That questioning was not recorded. Instead, the investigator then taped two very short question and answer periods. The promised polygraph test was never administered.
During the taped sessions Jordan says that during an argument over whether or not they should have waited to get married Cody grabbed her arm at one point, and that she knocked his arm off and pushed him away in a single motion. It was then that he went over the cliff. "...I didn't realize that one push would mean for sure you were over," she can be heard saying on the tape, according to the transcript.
That's all the new information we have so far, but there may be more as the trail proceeds. Keep in mind that the question in this case is whether or not Jordan is guilty, as charged, of premeditated first degree murder.
That may help you to decide how this case will turn out.
What do you think so far?
This morning is the first time I have read any of this on here.
I looked at the pictures and my idea of them is they were more interested in looking good in the pictures instead of two people in love with each other.
If they were having an argument why would he have turned his back on her at the edge of a cliff?
Something is wrong with the whole story.
Didn't she admit earlier she had shoved him over the cliff?
"Didn't she admit earlier she had shoved him over the cliff?"
No! She has steadfastly said the same thing: He pushed her, he grabbed her arm and squeezed it, she pulled it off and shoved him away from her, and somehow or other he went over the cliff. She does not know why. She makes that very plain. He may have tripped over a rock, or he may not have been sober, a fact which would have led to the argument over whether or not they should have gotten married. We won't know until all the evidence is in. All we have now is the prosecution's interpretation of what she said. The big question is: Why did this guy stop at the edge of cliff to have an argument with a women he had just married? And what, exactly — not just generally — did he do beforehand that made her regret marrying him. What, specifically, did she want to have happen, and why did he grab her arm at the top of a cliff?
The lesson here is what happened to her when she agreed to do a couple of very stupid things that people do when they think just being honest and telling what happened will take care of everything:
a. Never agree to be questioned without a lawyer.
b. Never allow the questioning to take place without being recorded.
c. Never agree to take a polygraph test, believing that one will be given to verify what you say, unless you have it in writing that one will be given.
What they did is a classic abuse of the system. They first questioned her at length to find out what things she might say that would sound incriminating. They had carte blanche at that time. They could suggest things like, "Were you angry at that time?" "You were? Were you VERY angry?"
Then, having seen what they could ask for the record, they asked only those questions that would tend to make her look guilty, and they asked them in a way that forced her to answer in certain ways, such as, "You did say before that you pushed him? Is that true?"
And then, having only the evidence they wanted on tape, they didn't give her the polygraph test they promised her. Why? Ask yourself why a prosecutor would opt NOT to gather more evidence to support his case?
When I first looked at this case I only reported it because it was so unusual that I thought everyone would enjoy looking at the faces and seeing what they said, if anything. But the more I learn, the more I become convinced that this whole thing smells to high heaven!
What does this case say?
a. Keep your mouth shut!
b. Get a lawyer
c. Answer NO leading questions on tape! Instead, clearly say, "That' a leading question. You know I never said that, and you know it isn't true, so you are not going to use any lawyer's tricks to make me look guilty when both of us know full well that I am innocent." Get it on the record!
By the way, Kim, saw your letter in the paper and so found out the work you do.
Good for you!
Want to drive over to Wyoming and testify in this case? Sounds to me like an abuse case just waiting to happen. Can you picture some guy grabbing his bride by the arm in an argument just 8 days after the wedding?
I wonder if they did blood alcohol test on him? Or if he was hung over?
Thank you Tom, for the kind words!
You're welcome, Kim. Only when people car enough to get involved does anything get done.
Frankly, I can't imagine how anyone who calls himself a man can raise his hand to a woman five to eight inches shorter than he is, who lacks the word hardened muscles he has, and often weighs by 75 pounds or more pounds less than he does. It seems impossible, but I guess they exist.
My comment? Stick them in prison and see if they dare to slap around the rest of the apes.
It just occurred to me that you folks might wonder what it was that first caught my attention in this case. It wasn't the facts you've read here on the forum. It was something quite different, something I see all the time, something very unfaur which gets me really angry.
Here it is; just read these quotes:
"Jordan Graham, 22, was charged in September with second-degree murder in the July 7 death of her husband, 25-year-old Cody Johnson of Kalispell, Montana."
"Graham entered not guilty pleas...."
"Agent Steven Liss said that Graham argued...."
"Graham had confided to a friend...."
"Graham stated she could have...."
"Graham told authorities...."
"Graham's federal public defender...."
See what I am talking about? No? It's not obvious.
It's an often used method of prejudicing a reader against someone — using his or her last name only, making him or her sound like a felon.
Jordan Johnson's name is NOT Graham; it is Johnson. That changed when she married. But her married name is not used once, either in the original article, or in any of the follow-up articles I have found. And her first name is given JUST once in each one.
As in Luciano, Dillinger, and Capone.
Every time her husband is mentioned, however, he is either called "Cody," "Cody Johnson," or just "Johnson."
If you go back and read my first post, and every comment I have since posted, you'll see that I call them Jordan and Cody Johnson, as is not only appropriate, but is legally correct. And I refer to each of them by his or her first name not by his or her last name only, like some convicted felon.
It was this glaring evidence of prejudice in the first report which made me decide to watch this case carefully.
Remember, you and I are not the only ones who read all those reports, or heard them on the six o'clock news. The eight men and four women on her jury also listened to and read all that stuff— for many long weeks before they were called for jury duty.
Once a negative attitude in planted in a juror's mind...?
Well, it's over.
We now know what was wrong between Jordan and Cody.
We now know how she felt about it.
We now know what led to the argument.
Here is actual trial testimony:
Defense attorney Andrew Nelson described Graham as a "young, naive, insecure, withdrawn, and maybe a little boring" individual who was devoted to her church, wonderful with children, but struggled in communications with adults.
Kimberly Martinez, matron of honor at the wedding, and also a close church friend and “older sister” to Jordan, testified about text messages that Jordan sent her while on her honeymoon.
• All the time, all I feel like doing is crying.
• I just know he’s going to want to do stuff and I’m not really wanting to.
• I just feel like it’s my job to make sure he’s happy. Even if it means I go everyday miserable and all I do is cry.
• We yelled at each other for 30 min. All I want is a hug and someone to tell me they love me, and it all to just go away.
• I’m to the point, almost, of not wanting to live.
• He held me down the other night and was in my face. I was ready for a hit and was going to go right back at him.
• My period started tonight! I hope it works! Because if I’m forced to do something, I’m going to freak out!
• I’m a loser who can’t open my mouth and say how I feel.
A text sent at 9:05 the day of Cody Johnson’s death reads: “but dead serious, if u don’t hear from me at all again tonight something happened.”
In none of the testimony, either given orally or recorded, did Jordan admit anything other than the fact that she and Cody argued, that Cody grabbed her, she yanked her arm out of his grip, and shoved "him back."
Not "his" back as previously stated in news reports.
You may not believe this. I'll just quote it for you, and let it go at that. In this quote Jordan is called "Graham."
"Day four of the Jordan Graham trial...."
(At this point testimony has stopped.)
"Jordan Graham pleaded guilty to a second degree murder charge [and] answered questions from Judge Donald Molloy."
“What did he say to make you angry?” Molloy asked.
“He didn’t,” Graham said. “He grabbed my hand.”
“Did he let go?” Molloy said.
“No,” Graham said, adding that she pulled away.
After Molloy reiterated the details of the law, Graham responded saying, “I was reckless with extreme disregard.”
“You are agreeing to two things,” Molloy said. “Number one, you’re giving up a right to have a jury to decide your fate. Number two, you’re giving up your claim to double jeopardy.”
"Graham will be sentenced on March 27, 2014. Molloy said that Graham will be sentenced to an estimated 235 to 295 months."
That's it. Draw your own conclusions.
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