Jury: Prescription drugs not a factor in head-on crash that killed elderly couple

VISTA, Calif. -- A jury found Tuesday that prescription medications a woman had in her system while driving last year were not factors in a head-on crash that killed an octogenarian couple in Valley Center.

Jessi Daniels, 28, was acquitted of two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence. However, jurors found the defendant guilty of misdemeanor manslaughter in the deaths of 83-year-old Bob Durant and 81-year-old Jo Durant, who were celebrating their 64th anniversary.

Daniels faces up to two years in jail when she is sentenced Jan. 8.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Bruce told the jury that Daniels has therapeutic levels of the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam -- commonly known by the brand name Xanax -- and the anti-depression medication venlafaxine -- commonly known as Effexor -- in her system at the time of the June 27, 2017, collision. The prosecutor told jurors that the medications can cause impairment.

Daniels -- in her Ford Explorer Sport Trac -- crossed over the double yellow line on Lilac Road near Hideaway Lake Road about 1 p.m., crashing head- on into the Durants' Mercedes-Benz E300, killing them on impact, authorities said.

Defense attorney James Dicks told the jury that witnesses observed Daniels acting normally in the hours leading up to the crash. A paramedic at the crash scene said Daniels' pupils were normal and that she was alert following the collision, Dicks said.

Family members said the victims had moved to Oceanside from Valley Center and were checking on the home they had sold when they were killed.

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