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Johns found guilty of vehicular manslaughter

May 21, 2008

by Joseph Serna and Daniel Tedford

Janene Johns’ daughter howled in shock Wednesday after her mother was found guilty of killing Costa Mesa teacher Candace Tift in a car accident two years ago. Then Lauren Johns fell into sobs as she hugged her mother before she was led off into custody.

Meanwhile, Tift’s family members applauded the verdict as it was read in the courtroom, and several cried with joy.

Johns, 53, of Irvine was found guilty on all counts after hitting Tift with her Lexus Aug. 23, 2006 as Tift was riding her bike. Prosecutors said Johns was on a cocktail of prescription drugs Xanax, Ambien sleeping pills and cough medicine when the accident happened.

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Johns was found guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence with injury. She faces up to 10 years in prison or a minimum of one year with probation. She is scheduled to be sentenced July 18.

“This was the most disappointing verdict I have ever had in my career,” defense attorney Gary Pohlson said.

Johns’ defense tried to argue that she was so grief-stricken by the death of her husband weeks before the accident that she was in an unconscious state when the accident happened, meaning she was not liable.

More details to come as the story develops this afternoon.


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