Manslaughter and Leaving-Scene-of-Accident Charges Against Elderly Woman Expected to be Dismissed

Published on February 9, 2015

PHOENIX, Ariz. (February 6, 2015) – It is expected that the manslaughter and leaving-the-scene-of-the accident charges filed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office against 74-year-old widow Marie Blandford, who accidentally took Ambien and blacked out while driving last April 3, 2013, resulting in the fatal injury of two people on the road, will be dismissed by the Maricopa County Superior Court. “Blandford, a widow and mother of three children, has suffered from progressive dementia and Alzheimer’s and is incapable of assisting her counsel at trial,” said her attorney, Dennis Wilenchik.

After repeated hearings and objections by the prosecution, the Superior Court made it clear that Mrs. Blandford would be found incompetent to assist her attorney at trial. Various medical experts repeatedly found her incompetent to stand trial, including a court-appointed expert who put her through an intensive rehabilitation treatment process over two months to try to restore her to competency, without success.

Mr. Wilenchik said that his client accidentally took Ambien the morning of the fatal accidents. He stated that she never had any independent recollection of the incident and has limited time and place orientation, as corroborated by various independent psychological and medical experts in the case.

“It has been extremely difficult for Mrs. Blandford, who resides in a 24-hour care facility and has significant memory deficits.  She suffers from severe depression due to the tragedy. When she is told about what happened, she becomes deeply mournful and grieves for the family members left behind. On behalf of Mrs. Blandford, we express our profound grief and sympathy to their families. This was a tragic accident.”