By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

updated Meighan Cordie's mother sentenced

Rusty Rae/News-Register##Jennifer Weathers is seated with her attorney, Walter Todd of Salem, during Tuesday morning s plea and sentencing hearing.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Jennifer Weathers is seated with her attorney, Walter Todd of Salem, during Tuesday morning's plea and sentencing hearing.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##A handcuffed Jennifer Weathers is led out of the courtroom and to the Yamhill County Jail where she will serve time.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##A handcuffed Jennifer Weathers is led out of the courtroom and to the Yamhill County Jail where she will serve time.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Anna Marie Ruiz reads a statement on behalf of Meighan Cordie s young daughter  during a plea and sentencing hearing for Cordie s mother, Jennifer Weathers. Yamhill County Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Donner, left, listens.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Anna Marie Ruiz reads a statement on behalf of Meighan Cordie's young daughter during a plea and sentencing hearing for Cordie's mother, Jennifer Weathers. Yamhill County Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Donner, left, listens.

Judge Cynthia Easterday wanted to impress upon Jennifer Weathers the gravity of drinking and driving.

“From the bottom of your soul, I hope you are so sorry,” Easterday told her. “I’m not getting that from you.”

Weathers nodded in the affirmative as Easterday spoke.

“There are so many ripple effects related to this,” the judge said. “It’s a whole new way of life for everybody.”

Weathers, whose daughter, Meighan Cordie, died last August when she either jumped out of or accidentally fell from a vehicle driven by her mother, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Yamhill County Circuit Court to one count of driving under the influence of intoxicants, a Class A misdemeanor.

One count of recklessly endangering another person, Class A misdemeanor, was dismissed as the result of plea negotiations between Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Donner and Weathers’ attorney, Walter Todd of Salem.

Easterday sentenced the 50-year-old Weathers, a King City resident, to 120 hours in jail, the equivalent of five days. She will serve 36 months on formal probation upon her release from custody Sunday morning. During that time, she can have no contact with Cordie’s daughter, Gia, who was 3 and a passenger in the vehicle when the incident occurred.

Weathers was handcuffed following the plea and sentencing hearing and led out of the courtroom to begin her sentence.

She must also attend a victim’s impact panel, the High Risk Driving Course at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland and engage in alcohol treatment. Additionally, Weathers will have her license suspended for 12 months and pay a $1,000 fine.

This was a stipulated sentence, which gave Easterday the option of letting Weathers withdraw her plea and take the case to trial had the judge not agreed with terms of the agreement. Easterday said she felt the sentence was “appropriate” for a first-time DUII offender with no prior criminal history.

“I see you stepping up, and somehow, I hope you can be a benefit to others,” Easterday said.

Weathers briefly addressed the court, saying, “It was a terrible tragic night and one that I wished never happened.”

She said she misses her daughter and talked about how she has helped raise Gia. “I miss her very much. I’m very sorry.”

The Yamhill County Major Crimes Response Team determined Cordie, who was also intoxicated, accidentally fell out of or made the decision to leap from the vehicle driven by Weathers the night of Saturday, Aug. 18.

Cordie and Weathers, accompanied by the child, had attended a wedding and reception in the Grand Island area earlier in the day.

Weathers reported to investigators she and Cordie got into an argument after leaving the wedding/reception location. District Attorney Brad Berry later said the two were physical with each other.

“There had to have been a lot of conflict in that car,” Easterday told Weathers. “And you were behind the wheel.”

Before mother, daughter and Cordie’s daughter began their return trip to the Portland area, Cordie got out of the vehicle, according to Weathers, who said she couldn’t immediately find her.

The 27-year-old was reported missing to the sheriff’s office by her mother the next day. An exhaustive ground and air search involving hundreds of people and multiple agencies spanned five days.

Her body was found by joggers the morning of Thursday, Aug. 23, over an embankment north of Dayton on Foster Road, which serves as the off/on ramp for Highways 18 and 221 — Wallace Road.

Cordie died instantly of massive back and head injuries after striking one or more guardrail support posts, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office. Based on the investigation, her death was ruled accidental by District Attorney Brad Berry.

“Whether she jumped or fell from the car does not change the criminal analysis,” Berry said in a summary of the investigation provided by the lead investigator, sheriff’s Detective Todd Steele. “No evidence about the death points to a criminal cause.”

Berry reaffirmed that belief after Weathers was sentenced.

“Although this (DUII) charge stemmed from her actions that night, there were no applicable Oregon criminal statutes to the death itself.”

He said Cordie’s family, who was kept abreast of the investigation into her death and the ongoing plea negotiations, concurred with the final agreement.

Donner said 12 witnesses, individuals who attended the wedding and reception with Cordie and Weathers, were interviewed. Many said they were concerned about Weathers’ physical state. They believed she had drunk too much. Many thought she should not be driving.

If it was Weathers’ intent to return to the Portland area, she was driving in the wrong direction when the incident occurred. Traveling northbound on Highway 221 (Wallace Road) after leaving Dayton, she should have taken a left turn just past Baker Rock Resources and onto eastbound Highway 18. Instead, she continued onto Foster Road, a route that funnels traffic onto westbound Highway 18.

“There were no efforts to call law enforcement because she didn’t want to get in trouble,” Donner said.

Todd said his client’s daughter, who was intoxicated, made a “tragic decision” to jump out of the vehicle, at which time she died almost immediately after her body slammed into the guardrail support posts.

He said Weathers was in court only to answer to the DUII charge and nothing else associated with the incident and her daughter’s death.

She was accompanied by a few supporters who sat on one side of the courtroom. On the opposite side sat Cordie supporters, who were accompanied by Crime Victim Services Director Debra Bridges.

Peggy Holland, Gia’s grandmother and the mother of Gia’s father, wrote a three-page statement that was read by friend Anna Marie Ruiz.

“It is difficult to put into words how I feel about the tragedy that my son and Gia have faced,” she said. “I say it like they have faced it, but in reality, they live it every single day. Their lives have now become separated in two parts.”

Ruiz said there was life before Aug. 18, 2018, and life at the present time. She said Gia was a “happy little girl” living with parents who loved and cared for her every day.

Almost six months later, “because Jennifer Weathers drove intoxicated,” she has to adjust to a new life with her dad as the sole caregiver.

Holland said Weathers planned to be the designated driver on the day of the wedding.

“When Jennifer drank and then got behind the wheel, endangering Gia and Meighan as well as anyone else on the road that night, everything went terribly wrong,” Holland said.

She said Gia and her son continue to attend counseling on a regular basis. The challenge is to know how to help Gia cope with the memories. Professional help has been a great asset, she said.

Holland said Gia is being “robbed” of the mornings when she helps her pick out clothes for school and gets dressed and ready for her day, when she wants to cuddle before falling asleep and so much more.

Her mother, not Holland, should be part of all those special moments, she said.

“I am there to comfort her lovingly but if she were to look up, she would see the tears rolling down my face because I am thinking that she should be in her mom’s arms,” Holland said.

“The life Gia now lives is still filled with love and stability,” Holland said. “She is surrounded by her father, grandparents, aunts and uncles who love and care for her.”

However, that will never make up for not having her mother in her life, she said.

“My heart breaks for my son, his daughter and also for Meighan, who was a wonderful person, beautiful inside and out,” Holland said.

She added, “She was a loving, nurturing mother who will never get to see her daughter grow.”

Todd said he and his client could have objected to Holland’s statement being read and/or responded to when Weathers was given her opportunity to address the court.

“She said, ‘No,’” Todd said. “She took the high road.”


fir tree

So the storyline here is that if you can get a high dollar attorney with no moral values then you can get away with anything. This is just so wrong on so many levels.


The lack of moral values isn't on the attorney, it's on the defendant.....I'm not sure there was enough evidence to even make the DUI stick had she not pled guilty.......The fact that she mislead law enforcement about the actual event says a lot about who she is as a person.....That's what people should remember.....


Lovely woman.

Bill B

Well I hope her wrist doesn't hurt too badly..


This makes me sick. Sounds like Walter Todd took Benjamin Donner to the cleaners in the "negotiations".


She should at least pay for the cost of the unnecessary searches.

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