Jordan Graham pleaded guilty Thursday to the charge of second-degree murder for pushing her husband off of a cliff just eight days after their wedding.
The deal came in federal court in Missoula, Mont., at lunchtime Thursday, just before her jury was set to hear closing arguments in her murder trial.
She previously pleaded not guilty. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy accepted the surprise plea, but said that she first had to tell him the truth in court.
Graham said that she and Cody Johnson were on the Loop Trail in Glacier National Park July 7, arguing over what the defense called her "wedding blues."
When Johnson grabbed her arm, she said she brushed him away and pushed him, with that shove sending him over the edge of a cliff to his death.
"I ran back up to the car and left," Jordan Graham told the judge. "I was scared of what happened and in that moment I was so scared I didn't know what to do."
Graham was handcuffed and taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.
Although the deal removes charges of first-degree murder and making false statements, Graham still faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The trial, up to that surprising point, had been quick but emotional.
Sherry Johnson testified that her son Cody was excited to marry Graham, and that she tried to console Graham during a service after her son's death.
"I put my arm around her and said everything will be okay," Sherry Johnson said tearfully. "Cody's with Jesus now." Graham didn't respond, Johnson testified.
Graham's matron of honor, Kimberly Martinez, testified that Graham sent her text messages before the wedding, saying she was getting nervous.
Texts after the wedding hinted that ths was rethinking everything.
Graham's 16-year-old brother also testified that she knew where to search for Cody Johnson's body and that he was distraught over her many deceptions.
"She could have told us the truth," Michael Rutledge testified.
"She had to keep telling lies to cover it up."