Pilon’s next court hearing remains on hold


Joy Ufford photo This trailer filled with logs separated from the Koch Construction semi and swung across Highway 191 on the afternoon of Oct. 30, 2021, spilling full-length logs.

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Natalie R. Pilon joined her status hearing via computer from Montana, on Monday as the judge and deputy prosecutor expressed a need to keep the felony case moving against her.

Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed after a collision on Oct. 30, 2021, when she allegedly “deliberately” drove into a semi and trailer fully loaded with logs, according to court records. She was seriously injured; two other drivers were also injured.

Pilon’s only appearance before Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws was on March 29 after she was charged twice with felony intentional or reckless aggravated assault with a vehicle and battery and two felony counts of property destruction.

Since then, private attorneys John LaBuda and Rives White have rescheduled her Circuit Court preliminary hearing, when the judge is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bind her case to 9th District Court.

LaBuda told Judge Haws and deputy county attorney Adrian Kowalksi at the Aug. 1 status hearing he requested Pilon’s past two years of medical records for evaluation but they had not arrived.

Kowalski objected to the medical records’ delay, saying the court needs “to keep the case moving.”

“My only suggestion is to have a competency exam scheduled,” he said. “The court could order it (and wait for the medical records to arrive). … Maybe the Wyoming State Hospital can get to it.”

Judge Haws said even if he “ordered it today,” WSH’s schedule is weeks or months for a competency evaluation. “The backlog is so significant.”

He asked LaBuda if his client would agree to a “virtual evaluation, similar to a courtroom.” There is a 90-day time frame.

LaBuda said that is “almost exclusively” how WSH staff would conduct it.

“I will put an order in asking for an evaluation of (Pilon’s) competency at the time of the incident,” the judge said. “At the time of Oct. 30, 2021.”

Pilon is also charged with misdemeanors of driving with a cell phone screen visible and not wearing a seatbelt.

At her initial appearance, her bond was set at $250,000 signature bond with strict terms and she was released after bond was met.

In June, LaBuda asked if Pilon could move to Billings, Montana, to live with her mother. Judge Haws allowed the move and maintained the existing bond, adding more conditions about not driving, contacting her attorneys and assisting in her own defense.