The case against a Minnesota woman accused of vehicular homicide marks the first time the substance carfentanil has gone under Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory microscopes.
The drug, considered 10,000 times more potent than the painkiller morphine, was allegedly among a blend of drugs found in a rocklike substance 22-year-old Makellia S. Jensen possessed when St. Croix County Sheriff's Office investigators searched her car in the wake of a fatal 2016 crash for which she faces felony charges. The crash on Highway 35 in the town of Troy left 16-year-old Beldenville resident Kyra Hayes dead.
St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes said Jensen's case represents the first time the state's crime lab has analyzed carfentanil and likely appears the first time carfentanil-related charges have been filed in Wisconsin. The substance is so dangerous that it requires hazardous materials training, he added.
Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack ordered Jensen to be held on $50,000 cash bond during her initial appearance Tuesday, June 13, after she was extradited from Minnesota.
Nieskes also noted during the hearing that the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office will be assisting with the prosecution. He said outside the courtroom that Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold — the AG's "go-to person" for traffic-related crimes, Nieskes said — has been working for months with St. Croix County Assistant District Attorney Alexis McKinley on the case.
Nieskes said he has background in such cases, but "we needed more experience than I was able to give, given my current workload.
"These cases are relatively rare," he said.
St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Scott Knudson said Jensen was arrested at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday, June 7, at a Motel 6 on Cleveland Avenue in Roseville, Minn., after police were called there for a disturbance in a room.
Police found Jensen — who allegedly first gave a false name — and a man in the room. She was arrested and taken to Ramsey County jail, before being brought to Wisconsin on charges of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and several drug-related counts.
According to Ramsey County jail information, she was booked on suspicion of felony controlled substance possession and being a felony fugitive from justice. Knudson said suspected drug paraphernalia found in the hotel room was seized by police.
Jensen is accused of handling her phone during an Oct. 21, 2016, traffic incident on Highway 35 in the town of Troy that forced Hayes off the road and into the fatal crash.
A criminal complaint filed in the case alleges St. Croix County County sheriff's deputies found a mixture of heroin, carfentanil and fentanyl in Jensen's car after the crash.
She returns to court June 21.