JONESBORO — Filings in Clayton County Superior Court claim a Lithonia woman charged with an Aug. 25 crash that killed three teenagers suffers from an undiagnosed medical condition and that she has no memory of the incident.
Priscilla Dianne Johnson, 49, has been held in the Clayton jail since her arrest, unable to post $450,000 bond. In the filings, Johnson also asks for a bond reduction, continuance of pending court hearings and suppression of evidence gathered by police.
Clayton County police said Johnson plowed into three teens as they walked along Ga. 138 near I-675 in Stockbridge. Octavius Sorrells and Timothy Aaron, both 17, and Antonious Bishop, 16, were on the shoulder of the state route near the interstate’s overpass when they were struck.
Police said Johnson was under the influence of medication and arguing on a cell phone at the time of the crash. According to arrest warrants, Johnson kept driving after hitting the three teens, stopping only when she hit a light pole. When police arrived, Johnson got into the driver’s seat of a patrol car, pulled away violently from officers and wouldn’t follow commands, allege the warrants.
Through her attorney, Larry Melnick of Jonesboro, Johnson filed an affirmative defense, which means she won’t deny charges but will offer evidence explaining what led to them. Part of that explanation seems to be an undiagnosed medical condition.
The filings allege the condition caused Johnson to suffer multiple seizures and blackouts prior to and subsequent to her arrest. Johnson claims she is not getting adequate treatment in jail, leading to the request for a reduction in bond.
Melnick stated in the filings he is “investigating (Johnson’s) physical health issues” and she needs to be examined by a competent medical expert.
“She requires medical treatment and diagnostic tests to rule out a significant organic brain condition or disease,” he said.
In his request for reconsideration of bond, Melnick pointed out that Johnson has ties to the community, is not a flight risk or likely to commit future crimes while awaiting trial. The filings also note that she worked as a caregiver for an Atlanta assisted-living facility at the time of the crash.
Johnson also wants a field sobriety test given her at the scene and her statements to police thrown out. She alleges that she was seriously injured, suffered multiple cuts and bruises, and was disoriented after the crash. She also claims she suffered a “clear loss of memory of events.”
She has entered a not guilty plea to multiple counts of first degree homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle and failure to render aid, among other charges.
Johnson’s case is on Judge Albert Collier’s Tuesday pretrial conference calendar.