Judge OKs Pilon's move to Montana


SUBLETTE COUNTY – Over the past four months, a court preliminary hearing still has not taken place for Natalie R. Pilon of Pinedale, who is charged with vehicular felonies after her October 2021 collision with a logging truck, that resulted in damages and injuries to others.

Pilon’s first and last court appearance was on March 29 before Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws for her initial appearance, when he set her bond at $250,000 signature bond with strict terms.

Since then, her attorneys John LaBuda and Rives White have requested delays and Judge Haws has allowed Pilon to leave Sublette County to attend doctor appointments in Idaho Falls, court records show.

Most recently, Judge Hows approved Pilon’s “temporary” move to Billings, Montana, to stay with her mother, records show.

At a preliminary hearing, a judge determines if there is sufficient evidence to bind a criminal felony charge over to 9th District Court for prosecution.

Felony charges

Charges against her allege on Oct. 30, 2021, Pilon deliberately drove into a semi trailer loaded with full-length logs, causing injuries and damages to other drivers. Logs strewn across Highway 191 closed the road while they were cleared. Pilon was seriously injured in the collision and life-flighted to a regional hospital.

She is charged twice with felony intentional or reckless aggravated assault and battery and two felony counts of property destruction. Pilon is also charged with misdemeanors of driving with a cell phone screen visible to her and not wearing a seatbelt.

Last month, her attorneys continued the June 8 preliminary hearing, the second such delay since Sublette County Deputy Attorney Adrian Kowalski took over the case and at least the fourth in the case. At the same time, defense counsel asked Judge Haws to modify Pilon’s bond and allow her to move to Billings, court records show.

Concerns

Kowalski “expressed sympathy” and said he was inclined to agree with the request but then decided to object. His concerns included possible threat to community safety, and to others if she might “attempt the same or similar conduct in the future,” he wrote June 9, because Billings officers might not be able to enforce the court’s order to not drive.

“Moving not just out of county but out of the state” should require additional conditions, Kowalski argued. Those might be changing the unsecured $250,000 bond to a $50,000 cash/surety bond, house arrest, GPS tracking and “reaffirmation of the bond condition that Ms. Pilon must continue to follow doctor and counselor directives.”

Judge Haws said he was “comfortable” that Pilon would return to Circuit Court and approved her “temporary move” to Montana, adding several conditions.

Pilon must maintain at least weekly contact with her attorneys and assist in her own defense, follow her mother’s advice while living in Billings and return to Sublette County if she chooses to not live with her mother, records show.

At this time, no new date is set for Pilon’s Circuit Court preliminary hearing.

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