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Woman professes innocence in poisoning

Judge orders $1 million bond

Ina Thea Kenoyer

North Central District Court Judge Richard Hagar ordered a $1 million cash or surety bond for the woman accused of allegedly poisoning her boyfriend

Ina Thea Kenoyer, 47, Minot, appeared in district court in Minot on Tuesday afternoon, a day after being arrested and booked on the charge of murder – intentional, knowing or with extreme indifference, a Class AA felony, which carries a maximum penalty of life without parole.

While Hagar advised Kenoyer of her rights at the hearing, the accused woman interrupted several times to profess her innocence. Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson asked the court for a bond of $1 million.

“This was an intentional and heinous act. This bond is consistent with people with similar charges,” Larson said, over protests from Kenoyer that she is innocent.

“But why is it so high with this being my first offense? I’m not responsible for this,” Kenoyer said.

Hagar would go on to follow Larson’s recommendation, telling Kenoyer that the reason why her lack of criminal record wasn’t a factor was due to her charge being a AA felony in which a person had died.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, investigators and prosecutors are alleging the autopsy of Kenoyer’s boyfriend Steven Edward Riley Jr., 51, Minot, indicates the cause of death was poisoning and that Kenoyer had financial motives to murder Riley.

First responders were called to a northwest Minot residence on Sept. 3 to render aid to Riley, who was unconscious, before transporting him to the Trinity Hospital emergency room. Riley was eventually flown to CHI Alexius Hospital in Bismarck later that day due to the severity of his condition. Riley never regained consciousness and died on Sept. 5.

Investigators said, after his passing, concerns were shared by Riley’s friends and family, who suspected he had been poisoned by Kenoyer with antifreeze, based on statements she allegedly made in the past about poisoning her boyfriend with antifreeze. Witnesses also told investigators she said Riley had been poisoned with antifreeze while he was being treated, which investigators stated was before any lab work had been done. Investigators noted Kenoyer allegedly made these statements before any medical professional had updated her on Riley’s condition and even the fact he had died.

Kenoyer’s alleged motive is related to a large inheritance that Riley and his longtime girlfriend believed he was to be the recipient of. Riley had allegedly told friends he planned on breaking up with Kenoyer after he received his inheritance, with another witness telling investigators she allegedly saw Kenoyer throwing Riley’s property outside of their home the afternoon of Sept. 3 out of anger over his plan to leave her.

Tests performed by the coroner later showed toxic levels of ethylene glycol in Riley’s system, leading to the autopsy and determination of cause of death. Despite Kenoyer allegedly telling investigators and others that Riley had been drinking throughout the day, no alcohol was found to be in his system. Investigators stated Kenoyer did not take Riley to be treated despite telling others he had gone to a local walk-in clinic and did not obtain any medical treatment for him for more than 12 hours after he began showing symptoms. Riley died 24 hours later.

Detectives would later speak with Kenoyer, who told them she was aware of the inheritance and believed she was entitled to half as his common-law. Kenoyer allegedly became angry when informed North Dakota doesn’t recognize common law marriages, and she provided a number of possible scenarios for how Riley could have ingested the antifreeze. A search of her residence led to the discovery of a glass Coors Light bottle and a plastic mug in the garage, both containing suspected antifreeze.

Kenoyer will be eligible to file for a second bond hearing after 48 hours and will next appear for her preliminary hearing, scheduled for Dec. 7.

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