Lawyers used 'Ambien defense' in Bronson trial

Investigators: Woman accused of running down family of 3 after drinking, taking medication

Author: Stephanie Serna, Reporter,
Published On: May 16 2012 04:24:52 PM CDT   Updated On: May 17 2012 08:35:13 AM CDT

On Tuesday, a jury decided not to send a woman to jail after she admitted to taking the prescription drug Ambien and drinking several glasses of wine before she struck two girls and their mother with her car.

Julie Bronson was sentenced to 10 years probation instead.

Bronson's attorney, Patrick Hancock, said the prescription drug and its side effects is what led up to Bronson striking the 18-month-old child and the rest of the family.

"She drove out of a gated community," said Hancock. "A witness said she stopped at stoplights, but she just was never aware because of the hypnotic state that she was in when she struck the poor Lopez child and continued."

Dr. Janci Lindsay, a toxicologist, also testified to the effects of Ambien.

"You retain long-term memory," said Lindsay. "So you remember everything that happened before and you remember what happened after. You just don't' remember what happened in that window in between."

Hancock said he expects to see Ambien coming up in more cases in the future and that while the prescription drug is relatively easy to get a hold of, people do not realize how potent the effects can be on a person.

"It can certainly produce a case we just went through," said Hancock. "And I would anticipate is that there are cases where the officer thinks that the person is drunk and in fact, when they do the blood draw, they are going to find out there's no alcohol."