Pilon pleads not guilty by reason of mental illness

Trial for October 2021 collision charges set for May 8

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SUBLETTE COUNTY – A Pinedale woman charged with felony aggravated assault and battery and deliberate collisions with two other vehicles on Oct. 30, 2021, entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness.

Natalie R. Pilon, who has been living in Billings, Mont., under amended release terms set by Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws, appeared before newly sworn-in 9th District Court Judge Kate G. McKay for her Jan. 5 arraignment.

Private attorney Clay Kainer appeared with Pilon on behalf of her attorney John LaBuda, for that hearing only, Kainer told the judge. Newly sworn-in Sublette County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich appeared in place of deputy attorney Adrian Kowalski.

Judge McKay asked Pilon if she is currently on medication or receiving treatment that could affect her ability to understand the proceedings, to which Pilon said she is not taking medication but is receiving treatment.

The judge asked Pilon if her thinking was more or less clear as a result. Pilon said she is thinking “more clearly” now.

Charges

Judge McKay outlined two aggravated assault and battery charges charges Pilon faces as a result of her vehicle’s Oct. 30, 2021, allegedly deliberate collisions with a 2013 Kenmore tractor trailer, driven by Cayle Flugel, and a 2010 Chevy Silverado, driven by Kadar Criddle.

Pilon also faces two felony property destruction charges for each driver’s damaged vehicle, records show. A fifth misdemeanor charge alleges that Pilon had a television receiver – her cell phone – where a view of the screen was visible to her and the sixth is a traffic citation for no driver’s seatbelt.

Pilon allegedly drover her Toyota Camry into a loaded logging trailer pulled by Flugel driving the Kenmore; the tractor rolled and the trailer spewed logs for about 300 feet across Highway 191 about 3 miles west of Pinedale. Her vehicle also collided with Criddle’s truck.

Pilon and Flugel were life-flighted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where both were treated; Pilon began a load road to recovery that has hampered her ability to appear in court.

NG-NGMI

Judge McKay explained to Pilon that pleading “not guilty, not guilty by reason of mental illness,” carries requirements such as making that burden of proof, accepting any recommended testing and undergoing a mental evaluation.

LaBuda requested an evaluation while Pilon’s case was in Circuit Court and will likely request another evaluation in 9th District Court, Kainer said.

On Pilon’s behalf Thursday, Kainer entered pleas of not guilty, not guilty by reason of mental illness for all six charges.

Judge McKay set a jury trial date of May 8 with a pretrial conference on April 13. She moved on to new or adjusted bond and release terms for the District Court stage.

Melinkovich said Judge Haws’ previous release terms did not include a warning that Pilon could be arrested if she violated her release conditions. Kainer asked that “this not be imposed at this time.”

Judge McKay said she believed Pilon should face that condition – “These are very, very serious charges.”

Judge Haws also did not order Pilon to have no contact with her alleged victim, Melinkovich said, which Judge McKay also added to her release terms.