A former Cody resident accused of distributing meth has pled guilty to that crime, as well as permitting meth into her infant daughter’s body.
Kristen Kenney entered a guilty plea for both crimes July 15 in Park County District Court.
Kenney is charged with felony conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, a crime punishable by up to 20 years jail and $25,000 and an additional felony for child endangerment.
In relation to the child endangerment ingestion charge, Park County Deputy Prosecutor Leda Pojman said at the hearing Kenney had passed on trace levels of meth to her daughter when breast feeding her.
Pojman said Kenney and the state have now negotiated a cold plea in exchange for her guilty admittance to the alleged offenses.
Contrasting from a standard plea bargain where the prosecuting attorney typically argues for a lighter sentence in return for a guilty plea, a cold or “blind” plea leaves it up to the presiding judge to sentence the defendant as they see fit.
“There are no promises,” Judge Bill Simpson said. “The court could still impose a term of incarceration and fines.”
In all, Kenney is facing up to 25 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
She successfully completed a six-month stint at Southwest Counseling Services in Rock Springs between 2017 and 2018. In March 2018 she had her bond conditions greatly reduced, allowing her to live with her mother across state borders in Red Lodge. This April, her bond was loosened further, allowing her to live on her own with her two daughters.
“There have been no issues on bond, she has always maintained contact with me,” Kenney’s attorney, Scott Kath said.
“It appears you’ve done that at least for over a year and a half,” he said.
Since she was first arrested on the meth distribution charge in fall 2016 her case has been sent through a rash of delays and continuances. Kenney has waived her right to a speedy trial twice and her attorney has filed three separate motions of continuance during the lead up to trial in both cases.
Charges were first brought against Kenney primarily in relation to an October 2016 incident when Department of Criminal Investigations agents apprehended a Colorado man, Joel Rodriguez, with 442 grams of meth.
Inside his cell phone authorities found Kenney’s and Kevin McElmury’s phone numbers. During later questioning Kenney admitted to travelling to Casper to purchase meth from Rodriguez.
Three other confidential sources also allegedly named Kenney and described a well-organized distribution network wherein she would “front” small amounts to several parties, collecting money after sales were made.
It was one month after the Casper meth bust investigators found a small amount of meth in her possession, in the same room her infant was sleeping at her Cody home.
An Aug. 2017 lab test from Cody Regional Health revealed traces of meth inside the infant’s system.
McElmury and 13 other people have been subpoenaed by the state to testify to Kenney’s alleged actions in her charges. Upon receiving his subpoena, McElmury, serving a 3-5 year prison sentence, penned a scathing letter denouncing Kenney and the state attorneys.
Simpson said both the state and defense will be given the opportunity to present evidence at Kenney’s sentencing.
“Both parties will still make arguments,” he said. “It’s very important you bring forth any witnesses.”