San Diego

Jurors Deadlocked on Murder Charge in Trial of Stoned Driver

The woman's defense attorney argued his client had unknowingly smoked a very potent strain of marijuana and suffered an unusual reaction.

A verdict was reached Monday for the San Diego woman who smoked marijuana and crashed into an oncoming car in Scripps Ranch nearly three years ago. The woman's defense attorney argued his client had unknowingly smoked a very potent strain of marijuana and suffered an unusual reaction. 

Hyun Jeong Choi was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury after causing a crash that crumbled a vintage Porsche in March 2016.

Choi had also faced a charge of second-degree murder but jurors were deadlocked 10 to 2 for guilty on the primary charge.

"There were two people that disagreed with the rest regarding whether the facts satisfied the definition of what's called 'implied malice' for the murder charge," Deputy District Attorney Andrew Aguilar said.

Choi's attorney has said his client was "catastrophically impaired" after smoking a strain of unrealized potency and has argued she was not guilty of murder because she was given little or no warning of its strength.

The crash happened on Easter 2016. NBC 7’s Melissa Adan reports from the courthouse.

Choi, 36, was arrested on March 27, 2016, following a collision on Pomerado Road between Caminito Alto and Sycamore Test Road.

Amanda Walzer, 43, was riding in a 1956 Porsche that had only lap seat belts and no airbags.

When Choi's vehicle traveled over the raised median, it collided with the Porsche, killing Walzer and injuring the Porsche driver.

An image of the fatal collision shown in court.

Choi's first trial ended in a mistrial. Her attorney Stephen G. Cline told jurors that his client cannot be convicted of murder because his client had been sold Jupiter OG after a brief visit to a licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

Choi "made a naive and negligent mistake," he said, adding the lack of training of marijuana dispensary staff compounded the issue. 

Choi, who had a medicinal marijuana card for social anxiety disorder, purchased the marijuana based on the packaging after "roughly 9 minutes" of consultation with dispensary employees, Cline said. 

He said she pulled over on her way home, took a couple of puffs and started driving. 

Opening statements have begun in the trial against a former San Diego State student accused of driving under the influence of marijuana in a deadly crash. NBC 7’s Melissa Adan reports.

The collision took place approximately six miles from the dispensary.

Cline said his client lost her hearing as well as control over her arms and legs before the crash.

“She had no idea what she left that store with in regards to strength,” the attorney told jurors.

Officers found two different types of marijuana in Choi's vehicle as well as a marijuana pipe that was still warm to the touch, the prosecutor said.

Aguilar said there will be a meeting later this week to discuss whether to retry Choi on the murder charge.

A woman in her 30s allegedly smoking marijuana hit two people, a 49-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman, in a 1956 Porsche Sunday authorities confirmed. NBC 7’s Matt Rascon reports.
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