A former Cody resident will serve 10 years supervised probation but no prison time after pleading guilty to distributing meth and permitting meth into her infant daughter’s body.
Kristen Kenney was sentenced in Park County District Court on Oct. 28 after nearly three years of court proceedings and delays since she was first arrested in the fall of 2016.
“I am going to give you an opportunity, but it comes with a significant price,” Judge Bill Simpson said.
Kenney, 37, will also be required to pay a $1,000 fine and will likely serve a 6-10 year prison sentence if she breaks her probation.
The sentencing comes after Kenney and the state came to a cold plea deal agreement in July. 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 presiding judges to sentence the defendant as they see fit. Kenney was facing up to 25 years in prison and $30,000 in fines for her crimes.
“I’ve gone down a crooked path fueled by my addiction, which has endangered my daughter,” Kenney said in the courtroom. “I have deep regret and remorse for the trauma I’ve caused my mother to have.”
Her mother, Red Lodge resident Patricia Kenney, spoke on her behalf during the sentencing, commending her for following her court approved stay at Southwest Counseling Services in Rock Springs between 2017 and 2018.
“She had unmonitored access to I-90,” Patricia Kenney said. “She could have left at anytime to her freedom.”
This did not impress Simpson.
“That’s not much of an achievement,” he said.
But in relation to her recent past it was a change of character for Kenney.
Since being released from inpatient treatment, she has passed every drug test and kept employment throughout the 1.5 years she has been out of custody. She has also undergone additional supervision due to conditions placed in her confidential case.
Charges were first brought against her 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.
Kenney served a little more than four months in jail after being arrested in April 2017.
McElmury was sentenced to 3-5 years in prison last February.
Three other confidential sources also allegedly named Kenney as a dealer within a well-organized distribution network.
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. A lab test from Cody Regional Health also revealed traces of meth inside the infant’s system at that time.
After authorities found meth in her possession in November 2016, Wyoming Department of Family Services took custody of her infant daughter. Kenney then went to Utah where she remained for five months before returning to Park County. She was arrested while attending another hearing for suspected neglect.
Kenney also has another child who was alleged to have been neglected in a separate case from May 2015. For failing to show up at a 2015 hearing alleging neglect of that child, Kenney was held in contempt of court.
Prosecuting attorney Bryan Skoric acknowledged her progress and the length of time since the crimes were committed, but still advocated for a 3-5 year prison stay.
“The court cannot ignore the serious nature of the charges,” Skoric said. “She is not only a user but a conspirator.”
Simpson said Kenney’s case was one he wrestled with for some time.
“This was one of the most challenging cases I’ve participated in as a judge and attorney,” he said.