A woman with a prior DUI conviction, who allegedly drove under the influence of marijuana and caused a head-on collision near Scripps Ranch that killed a passenger in an oncoming car, was ordered Friday to stand trial on second-degree murder and other charges.
Hyun Jeong Choi, 34, is charged in the March 27 crash that killed 43- year-old Amanda Walzer and left her fiance, 49-year-old Jon Warshawsky, unable to care for himself due to a brain injury.
Witness Regis Kodzi testified during a daylong preliminary hearing that he and his wife were driving on Pomerado Road behind Warshawsky’s vintage 1956 Porsche when Choi’s Toyota Corolla crossed a raised center divide and hit the Porsche head-on about 5:30 p.m.
“It was almost impossible to do what it (Choi’s car) did,” the witness testified.
San Diego police Officer Christine Garcia said she smelled a strong odor of burnt marijuana when she approached Choi’s car after the collision.
Choi — who has a 2013 alcohol-related DUI conviction — testified that she got a medical marijuana card in 2014, receiving a doctor’s recommendation to smoke cannibis to help calm her anxiety.
On the day of the accident, Choi picked up some marijuana at a local dispensary and smoked some of the drug before driving off, said Deputy District Attorney Steven Schott.
He said Choi told officers she felt “numb” after taking a hit of marijuana but drove her car anyway in an attempt to make it home.
Schott told Judge Joan Weber that Choi had been warned in several different ways that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and that she could be charged with second-degree murder if she drove while impaired and killed someone.
Defense attorney Stephen Cline argued there was no evidence that Choi was properly educated on the effects of medical cannabis and its varying strengths.
Weber ordered Choi to stand trial on charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI with drugs causing injury. The defendant faces 21 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges.
She will be back in court Sept. 22 for arraignment.
–City News Service
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