ALBANY, Ore. — In 1997, a woman fled to Canada after she was charged for manslaughter and DUII. Fast-forward to 2013: police have tracked her down, and she is now pleading no contest to her charges in Linn County.
Jean Keating pleaded no contest Monday morning at the Linn County Courthouse for DUII and for Manslaughter II, a Measure 11 crime. Police say Keating was driving drunk on April 13, 1997 along Interstate-5 near Albany. Oregon State Police say she crashed her car, resulting in the death of a Dexter woman, Jewel Anderson. Investigators say Keating fled to Canada before her trial. In June, OSP contacted Anderson’s family with the news.
“It’s a blessing,” said Geneva Brown, Anderson’s daughter. “Now we’ll get a closure – but it was all the waiting and not knowing.”
State troopers have since been gathering information about Keating to prepare for trial.
“I’ve been working on finding and contacting old witnesses,” said Trooper Steven Kenyon. “And finding out what Ms. Keating has been doing in the time that she has been missing. Ms. Keating’s just been living a normal life in Canada; raising her family on a farm.”
But the case isn’t going to trial. On Monday Keating pleaded no contest, waiving her right to a trial by jury.
“I wanted so bad to hear her say she was guilty today,” said Anderson’s daughter-in-law Linda Anderson. “We’ll never get to hear that, but knowing that she’s going to be serving the time that they’re going to give her – I guess that’s what we’re going to accept.”
No contest is not a guilty plea, but is similar in the sense that Keating will still be convicted.
“She’s had to live with herself too for all those years,” Brown said. “So we’re just willing to accept whatever the judge and everyone decides is best.”
Keating’s sentencing is set for Oct. 7.