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Cannard Not Facing DUII Charge

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – A twist in a once suspected DUII case that left an Oregon State University student with critical injuries in November: the current toxicology reports are saying the evidence is currently not supporting a DUII charge.

Matthew Cannard, 29, of McMinville, was arrested in November after deputies say he crashed into 21-year-old Jessica Neffendorf’s vehicle. The deputy on scene says Cannard had a hard time keeping his balance, he was drooling, and he didn’t seem to know where he was. But he says Cannard also told him that he suffered from blackouts and from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office arrested Cannard on Nov. 21 on charges including driving under the influence of intoxicants.

But when an arresting agency arrests someone, that person is booked on suggested charges. The District Attorney’s office will file the charges if there is supported evidence.

Cannard’s initial toxicology reports have come back negative, and the Benton County DA’s office says it does not have enough evidence to charge him for a DUII.

“The charge of DUI just isn’t currently supported by the evidence,” said Deputy District Attorney Shani Krumholz. “But the evidence is developing.”

Cannard is still facing other charges including assault in the second degree and reckless driving. His trial was orginially set for next week, but the State asked to push the date back for several reasons.

“One of them is the condition of Ms. Neffendorf,” Krumholz said. “She is simply unable to appear for trial. We also advised the court, however, that she may never be able to appear for trial. But her condition is still such that hopefully we would like for her to be there.”

Prosecutors are also waiting for other lab tests and for a crash reconstruction report.

Meanwhile, as Krumholz continues her work on the case, she often looks at a picture of Neffendorf that she posted to the wall in her office.

“This is Jessica,” she said. “And she keeps me company. I just think about her all the time. I think about her all the time.”

Neffendorf’s family says she has had seven surgeries. Now, she is at the Providence Child Center in Portland. Though she cannot speak yet, family members say they are seeing improvements.

“We’ll get paper for her and she’ll write on it,” said her stepfather Patrick Smith. “She’ll put on chapstick. And just in the last week or two, we’ve finally seen a smile. And you have no idea what that does.”

The family says hopefully within the next few weeks, Neffendorf will be able to start physical therapy, which Smith says will help determine the extent of her brain injuries.

“But we’re totally optimistic,” Smith said. “It’s been majorly stressful for the whole family. I wouldn’t wish what happened to Jessica and our family on anybody.”

As for Krumholz, she is reminded by Neffendorf’s picture every day of the work she does.

“She’s an inspiration for me to keep on showing up every day and trying to do the right work every day and just trying to get it right every day.”

Cannard’s trial is set for July 7.

2 comments

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  1. Matt says:

    This is certainly an interesting development. Upon initial reports of a DUI, we all just immediately assumed that must be the case and that the accused must be guilty. Maybe not! Perhaps this can be a lesson for all of us to reserve judgment until all the facts are actually in.

    On another note, it strikes me as a little inappropriate that a prosecuting attorney would keep a picture of the “victim” in their office and gaze upon it for inspiration. From a legal perspective, a victim implies a crime. The prosecuting attorney is therefore operating under the *assumption* that a crime took place, rather than a neutral and objective position of someone whose job is to investigate and determine whether one did or did not.

  2. Amy says:

    For family, care takers and others, Vehicle accidents can be devastating to both sides, recovery is slow and an ongoing process. Please, as she shows signs of improvements ask care teams and do research on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) also known as Post Concussion Syndrome. There are lots of sites that can give pointers, ideas, and help with the patience and understanding part. Educate yourself on what you can do, every injury is different.
    Take one day at a time and baby-steps are milestones to brain injury victims.

    My sister was involved in a car accident in 2011 and wasn’t diagnosed until 6 months later, after seeing a neurologist. Two years later, many ups,downs, steps forward and back,she has improved little, but will never be the “old” her.
    Pieces of her Died that day.
    Being a family caretaker is extremely hard on everyone, make sure that you have respite care so you can take care of you, too.

    The sheriff’s department are not competent/trained enough to recognize an in field brain trauma, so what looks like a DUII/DUI could possibly be something else.
    I’m glad that you had witnesses to this accident.

    Prayers and healing hugs are sent along with this comment.

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