A Stevensville woman already convicted of negligent homicide in the 2015 death of a well-known animal advocate pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges that she was impaired when she caused a head-on collision in 2018.
Meggie Jean Morgan, 30, will be sentenced in January.
If the judge chooses to follow the terms of a plea agreement, Morgan will be sentenced to a 10-year commitment with the Montana Department of Corrections with five years suspended on the new charges. She will also be sentenced to an additional 10 years, all suspended, on the original negligent homicide charge.
Following both wrecks, Morgan was found to be under the influence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
In September 2015, Morgan drove through a stop sign onto U.S. Highway 93 and collided with a vehicle driven by 64-year-old Judy Paul. At the time, Morgan's three children were in the car with her.
Paul was driving two Labrador puppies to her canine rescue home near Corvallis. Paul and one of the puppies died in the crash.
Morgan pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, three counts of felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor cruelty to animals. Following an emotional hearing in 2016 that included supportive testimony from her family and friends, former Ravalli County District Judge James Haynes decided to give Morgan another chance.
He imposed a deferred six-year sentence, which meant that her record would have remained clean if she had followed the conditions set by the court. Those conditions included 1,000 hours of community service and the requirement to remain off drugs and alcohol.
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But in June 2018, Morgan was charged with negligent vehicular assault and misdemeanor counts of operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana and failure to have liability insurance following a head-on collision on the Eastside Highway that sent both drivers to the hospital.
A charging affidavit said the first Montana Highway Patrol trooper on the scene found a Toyota Tundra on its top, with the vehicle’s driver suspended upside-down by her seat belt following the crash. The woman told the trooper later that she looked down for a moment into the cab of her truck and when she looked up, Morgan’s vehicle was right in front of her.
Morgan’s vehicle came to rest on the walking path on the east side of the roadway. Following the accident, Morgan spoke to a trooper while being treated at a hospital. Morgan said she remembered going through the roundabout east of Florence, but didn’t remember anything after that.
In September, Ravalli County Deputy Attorney Angela Wetzsteon filed a petition to revoke Morgan’s deferred sentence as a result of the new charges.
Morgan’s case was heard by Missoula County District Judge Leslie Halligan on Nov. 6.
Court records said Morgan both admitted to allegations outlined in Wetzsteon’s petition to revoke the deferred sentence and pleaded guilty to all three counts in the latest case. Wetzsteon requested an updated pre-sentence investigation be completed before the January sentencing.
Wetzsteon said Tuesday that testimony at the sentencing hearing could include friends and family of Paul and from the most recent victim.