Probationer with history of violations jailed for absconding

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, September 6, 2018

Montana Department of Corrections Photo
Jennifer Ellison

A woman who seriously injured herself in a drunken single-vehicle crash in 2015 is in legal trouble once again, this time for allegedly absconding from probation for the last year.

Jennifer Ellison, 43, appeared in handcuffs and jail clothing recently in district court and denied charges that she has violated the terms of her probation by being out of contact with her probation officer (P.O.) for a year. Specifically, for failing to keep in touch with her P.O. and failing to keep her P.O. advised on where she was living.

Ellison last made contact with her probation officer by phone in August 2017, said Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde at the hearing.

Ellison was placed on probation in December 2015 after pleading guilty to felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor charges of a second offense DUI, driving without a valid license and failing to carry insurance in connection with the accident.

District Court Judge Blair Jones imposed a 5-year deferred sentence, with three years suspended.

Had Ellison stayed out of trouble and followed all of the court-ordered conditions, the felony offense could have been cleared from her record.

Ellison was arrested on a revocation motion on Aug. 20 and jailed with bond set at $10,000. She has since posted that and is free.


Ellison’s crash occurred in January 2015, when she was reportedly seen driving a Jeep westbound on Nye Road, gradually swerving from the shoulder of the road and crossing the centerline, according to court documents.

At one point, Ellison was allegedly driving in the oncoming lane and caused an eastbound vehicle carrying four people to drive into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision.

A short time later a witness reported watching Ellison’s Jeep go off the right hand side of the road at a high rate of speed, hit an embankment and roll several times, partially ejecting Ellison and leaving her arm pinned, according to court documents.

Fire and ambulance crews lifted the Jeep up and Ellison was able to get herself out of the vehicle and was described as “being intoxicated, incoherent and smelled of an alcoholic beverage,” according to court documents.

At her 2015 sentencing hearing, Ellison took full responsibility for the crash and her actions thereafter. At issue was a chemical dependency problem that led to her being jailed before she was sentenced.

Ellison said she suffers from a neurological condition that is believed to be the root cause of an addiction problem.

Jones said he was “unconvinced” that Ellison could get the help she needs without the help of the Department of Corrections.