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Mom denies guilt in car fatality case
Kacy Joy Laingen, 37, appeared for arraignment before District Judge Russell Fagg a day after she was arrested on a warrant.

A Shepherd woman accused of a drunken-driving crash that killed her 10-year-old daughter pleaded not guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide.

Kacy Joy Laingen, 37, appeared for arraignment before District Judge Russell Fagg a day after she was arrested on a warrant.

Prosecutors say Laingen had been drinking at a restaurant Oct. 21 and refused a ride home just before rolling her minivan on Scandia Road.

Laingen and her daughter, MacKenzie Reffalt, were ejected in the crash. The girl died at the scene. Laingen was treated at Billings Clinic and later released.

While at the hospital, Laingen refused to voluntarily provide a blood sample when asked to do so by Montana Highway Patrol troopers, court records state. Four hours after the crash, hospital staff took a blood sample from Laingen without her consent at the direction of law enforcement authorities.

Prosecutors say Laingen had a blood alcohol level of 0.13 percent, above the state legal limit for driving of 0.08 percent.

The analysis also showed that Laingen had an antidepressant medication in her blood system, court records state.

Investigators said several witnesses gave statements about the fatal crash, including Laingen. As a result of those statements, prosecutors gave this account in court records of the events prior to the crash:

At about 6 p.m., Laingen took a dose of cold medication, intending to go to sleep. She changed her mind, however, and decided to have dinner with her daughter and two friends at the Feedlot Steakhouse, located at the intersection of Shepherd and Scandia roads.

Laingen drove to the restaurant with her daughter, arriving around 7 p.m. and staying about an hour. During dinner, Laingen had two mixed drinks.

Before leaving, one of Laingen's friends offered to drive her and her daughter home. Laignen declined.

"No, I can crawl home from here," Laingen reportedly told the friend.

The crash just over a mile from the restaurant was reported at 8:05 p.m.

Patrol investigators said the crash happened at a curve in the road when Laingen lost control of the 2002 Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere. Tire marks indicated that Laingen overcorrected while driving through the curve, sending it off the south side of the two-lane road. The minivan then went down a slope and rolled several times.

Laingen and her daughter were both thrown from the vehicle, and the girl died at the scene. Neither the mother nor her daughter was wearing a seat belt, the patrol said.

Prosecutors filed the criminal charge against Laingen on Friday, and she was arrested Monday on a $25,000 warrant.

Laingen was represented at her arraignment by Billings attorney Kelly Varnes, who told the judge that arrangements were being made for her to hire a private attorney. Fagg told Kelly to inform the Public Defender's Office if a private attorney was not hired so Laingen could be assigned a court-appointed attorney.

Fagg set Laingen's bond at $10,000 after Deputy County Attorney David Carter said that amount had been agreed to before the hearing on the condition that Laingen not drink alcohol or drive while her case is pending. She was also ordered to have no contact with any witnesses.

Laingen later posted bond and was released from the jail.

Vehicular homicide carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. A trial date has yet to be scheduled.

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