A Turner woman who took Ambien and crashed her car in February 2012 was acquitted of driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless driving during her court trial on Wednesday.

Judge Carol Bispham said the prosecution couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mandylee Kenney, 29, wasn’t sleep-driving — which is one of the insomnia treatment drug’s side effects listed by the Federal Drug Administration.

Kenney, a mother of three who was going through a divorce, would have been eligible for a DUII diversion program. After the verdict was announced, she said she wanted to go to trial because she wasn’t guilty.

“You tell the truth, you should receive justice, the right kind of justice. ... It’s been a long fight,” she said.

There was no jury during the one-day trial; instead, Bispham considered the case’s merit.  

At about 2:50 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2012, Linn County deputies responded to a single-vehicle crash at Richardson Gap Road near Fish Hatchery Road, in the Scio area.

Kenney had taken her prescribed dose of Ambien the previous night and was visibly intoxicated on the drug, testified her mother.

Her niece testified that she was woken up by a noise at midnight, and found Kenney on the floor, jamming her feet into the niece’s shoes, which were two sizes too small.

Kenney testified that after going to bed, “When I woke up, my first memory is sitting beside my car in the ditch.”

She was still in her pajamas and her niece’s shoes.

She was still in a dream-like state when she told the deputies that she was going to Crawfordsville to pick up a friend, said defense attorney Kent Hickam.

Kenney said she had no connections to Crawfordsville and didn’t know it existed, adding that she had limited memory of her interaction with deputies.

Prosecutor Michael Wynhausen said that Kenney’s comments to the lawmen, including a statement that she thought she was safe to drive, were evidence of her guilt.

“The defendant was aware of what she was doing,” Wynhausen said.

During closing arguments, he asked what would happen to someone who blacked out from drinking alcohol and then got behind the wheel.

Hickam said that new case law in Oregon means that the prosecution has to prove that a defendant is actually conscious.

“There are going to be very few cases in which an acquittal should occur,” Hickam said.

Kyle Odegard covers public safety for the D-H. He can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.


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