A superior court judge is expected to decide this week whether jurors in the trial of a woman who lost control of her Lexus and hit and killed a Newport Beach elementary school teacher on West Coast Highway will hear evidence that the driver was distraught over the death of her husband and taking medication for anxiety and sleep disturbances at the time of the accident.
Irvine resident Janene Johns, 53, was taking prescription drugs and over-the counter cough medicine to deal with the emotional aftermath of her husband’s death when her 2006 silver Lexus careened out of control and jumped the curb, killing Eastbluff Elementary School teacher Candace Tift, 31, on West Coast Highway in August 2006, Johns’ attorney Gary Pohlson claimed Monday during a motion hearing before Johns’ trial. Jury selection for the trial is expected to begin today.
Johns looked straight ahead in court during the hearing Monday wearing a black tailored pant suit and a pressed, light-blue striped blouse, as her attorney told how she was taking the prescription drugs Xanax and Ambien, as well as the cough medication Mucinex at the time of the accident. Xanax is a sedative typically used to treat anxiety and panic disorders as well as anxiety caused by depression, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ambien is a sedative used to treat insomnia.