SHERIDAN — A woman involved in a rollover crash in June 2016 faces charges of vehicular homicide in 4th Judicial District Court.
Jennifer O’Neil Thomas faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines for one count of aggravated homicide by vehicle after allegedly driving with a blood alcohol content level of 0.17 percent.
Court documents said on June 12, 2016, Wyoming Highway Patrol responded to a one-vehicle rollover crash on Highway 14/6 near milepost 33 in Sheridan County.
Thomas told law enforcement she and her boyfriend, later identified as John Ipes, had been drinking in Buffalo the night before and then drove around 2:30 a.m. to visit a friend in Clearmont. Thomas said she had two and a half drinks in Buffalo before they left.
The friend was not home, so the couple slept in the car until 5:30 a.m. and left Clearmont for Buffalo at approximately 5:50 a.m.
Thomas said she swerved to miss a deer, lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Thomas was wearing her seatbelt. A post-mortem examination of Ipes concluded he died from multiple blunt traumatic injuries secondary to ejection in a motor vehicle crash.
A blood sample taken from Thomas at the scene and submitted to Wyoming Department of Health Chemical Testing Program indicated Thomas’ blood alcohol level to be 0.17 percent, 0.09 percent over the legal limit.
Defense attorney Erin Wardell asked the court to consider adjusting the $25,000 cash-only bond during Thomas’ arraignment on Jan. 4. Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Matt Redle responded by reading a list of charges and convictions making up Thomas’ extensive criminal history, including drug, alcohol, spousal battery and interference with peace officer charges dating back to 2006.
The court denied the bond modification on the basis that Thomas proves a flight risk and danger to the community based on Redle’s presented history of Thomas.
Thomas pleaded not guilty to the charge. The court will set her trial and pre-trial conference dates.
The case comes to the courtroom more than 18 months after the incident. Redle said his office had been trying to put together the case throughout that time.