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Oregon Woman Not Held Responsible For Daughters DeathBonnie King Salem-News.com
Weathers was sentenced as a first-time offender on the charge of DUII
(McMINNVILLE, Ore.) -
Jennifer Weathers was the driver of a vehicle which left a wedding in the Grand Island area of Yamhill County August 18, 2018. According to officials, when Weathers left the wedding, she had her daughter, 28-year-old daughter Meighan Cordie, and her 3-year old granddaughter in the vehicle.
Both Meighan and her mother had been drinking at the wedding. Evidence gathered during the investigation identified witnesses who also attended the wedding reception. Some expressed the opinion that she should not have been driving.
During the drive, she argued with her daughter and it got physical between them, with Meighan pulling her mother's hair.
Her mother said that Meighan wanted out of the car, so she slowed down to less than 5 mph and Meighan jumped out of the car from the back seat.
Weathers told investigators that she turned the car around and looked for her daughter, but did not locate her so she took the granddaughter home, expecting her daughter to "show up the next day". When she got home, she saw that Meighan's shoes, phone and purse were left on the front seat when she "exited" the vehicle.
The next morning Meighan still had not arrived, so Weathers went to look for her to no avail. She then alerted police. The full "missing person" search began August 21st, more than 2 days after they left the wedding. At 10 a.m. August 23rd, the body of Meighan Cordie was discovered below SE Foster Road, in Dayton. An autopsy was performed and it was revealed that there were significant injuries to the body, and the injuries were consistent with "leaving a vehicle and striking a fixed object". She was not hit by a vehicle.
Officials deemed that the speed the vehicle would have been traveling at was significantly faster than the "less than 5 mph" that her mother alleged.
The investigation uncovered several other things as well. According to District Attorney Brad Berry, the body was found 9.4 miles from the location of the wedding - over 9 miles from where Weathers said he daughter left the car.
Also, it appears Meighan got out of the car more than once, the first time perhaps in the area where the search was conducted. Meighan apparently got out of the front seat then, returning to the car to sit in the back next to her daughter.
Investigators say it is clear that they drove an incorrect path to home, missing the turn for Hwy 18 toward Portland, and instead continuing forward to the curve on Foster Road.
Detectives from the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office, after an exhaustive investigation, ultimately identified enough witnesses to her intoxicated condition to be able to bring the DUII charge against her.
Although this charge stemmed from her actions that night, there were no applicable Oregon criminal statutes to the death itself.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death as "accidental."
"The issue before me at this point is singular," wrote District Attorney Brad Berry. "Was there a crime committed causing the death of Meighan?"
"There is nothing to indicate that she was forced, or pushed from the car. She was clearly in the back seat, and seated away from the only other adult in the vehicle, the driver. Whether she jumped or fell from the car does not change the criminal analysis.
"No evidence about the death points to a criminal case. This too is consistent with the ME findings that the manner of death was "accidental". I concur with that opinion," Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry wrote in the Prosecution Declined Memo of Sept 27, 2018.
In reaching the end result and recommended sentence to the court, the Yamhill County District Attorney’s Office Victims’ Services Division, engaged frequently with Meighan’s family, who concurred with this final result. Members of her family were present at the proceedings today.
Jennifer Weathers was sentenced to 36-months of probation, alcohol treatment as a condition of probation, attend a Victim Impact Panel, $1,000 fine, complete a High Risk Driving course, 1-year driver’s license suspension, no contact with her grandchild, and was ordered to serve 5 days jail.
She was taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing.
Source: Yamhill County District Attorney; Yamhill County Sheriff's Office
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