Amboy woman convicted again of vehicular assault

Jury finds Shaun Johnson was on meth when she struck teen with car

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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Shaun Johnson sat with her head in her hands Friday as a jury once again convicted her of vehicular assault stemming from a 2013 crash that resulted in the amputation of a Battle Ground teen’s lower leg.

The Clark County Superior Court jury deliberated seven hours before handing down its decision shortly after 2 p.m. Friday in the June 10, 2013, crash. The conviction was based on prosecution claims that Johnson was under the influence of methamphetamine when she struck then-16-year-old Justin Carey as he waited for a school bus beside Northeast 82nd Avenue in Battle Ground. He was found later, lying in the bushes, by a tow truck driver.

Johnson, 50, of Amboy was convicted in spring 2015 of the same charge and others, and was sentenced to three years in prison. However, a state appeals court in July overturned her convictions for vehicular assault and methamphetamine possession after finding that the Clark County sheriff’s deputy who found the drug in her purse had searched it illegally.

The prosecution had used the methamphetamine as evidence in her first trial to prove she was under the influence. The appeals court ruled that the drug evidence was erroneously allowed during Johnson’s trial. It was not introduced in the new trial.

Similar to her first trial, jurors also found there was an aggravating factor — Carey’s injuries substantially exceeded the level of bodily harm necessary to satisfy the elements of the crime. The aggravator allows for a sentence up to 10 years in prison; the standard sentencing range is nine to 12 months.

Johnson will be sentenced Feb. 27. In the meantime, she was taken back into custody and is being held on $75,000 bond.

During her first trial, it took jurors only two hours to decide Johnson’s fate.

Carey’s mother, Janette Chumley, who presented emotional testimony during the retrial, burst into tears when she heard the verdict, and left the courtroom.

She said afterward that she thought the jury was going to acquit Johnson because of the lengthy deliberation process.

“I was really nervous. I came to terms with it, I thought. But when the (victim’s advocate) mouthed (guilty) to me, I lost it. I was relieved more than anything,” Chumley said.

“And for Justin, it gives him a little bit of peace that she is being held accountable,” she added.

In Johnson’s retrial, a motorist who had stopped to help her after the crash testified that she observed actions associated with methamphetamine use. Johnson was reportedly jittery, skittish and paranoid, and had trouble focusing. A drug recognition expert also recognized signs of drug use hours after the crash. He determined that her behavior didn’t match what would be expected of someone on pain medication.

Johnson told detectives she had used methamphetamine two days prior. Her blood, which was drawn seven hours after the crash, later tested positive for methamphetamine. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu argued that the evidence indicates Johnson used the drug within hours of the crash based on the concentration in her blood.

However, her defense attorney, Shon Bogar, argued that the evidence didn’t add up.

He questioned why the Clark County sheriff’s deputy who responded to the crash didn’t notice signs of drug use and initiate a DUI investigation. Bogar also said that the drug recognition expert who spoke with Johnson at the hospital didn’t follow protocol in determining if she was under the influence. And pain medication that had been administered to Johnson at the hospital was missing from her blood test, he said.

Bogar said he plans to request a new trial, based in part on evidentiary issues and other problems that came up during the retrial.

“I believe this has not been a fair trial,” he told Judge David Gregerson.