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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Amy Senser's attorney says she deserves new trial

  • Amy Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, argued it's possible to infer that his client didn't know she struck Anousone Phanthavong on a freeway ramp that night.
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  • Evidence presented at Amy Senser's criminal vehicular homicide trial was "more consistent" with her innocence than her guilt, Senser's attorney argued Wednesday in asking a Minnesota appeals panel to overturn his client's conviction.
    A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals heard arguments a year after a Hennepin County jury convicted Senser, wife of former Minnesota Viking tight end Joe Senser, in the August 2011 traffic death of a Minneapolis chef.
    Amy Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, argued it's possible to infer that his client didn't know she struck Anousone Phanthavong on a freeway ramp that night. Phanthavong, 38, was putting gas in his stalled car on a darkened Interstate 94 ramp in Minneapolis when he was struck and killed.
    Nelson noted that Senser left the sport utility vehicle out in the driveway when she got home, the Star Tribune reported.
    "None of that behavior is consistent with having actual knowledge that you killed someone," Nelson said.
    Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Lee Barry, arguing for the state, said there was considerable evidence that Senser knew she hit a person, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
    "The headlight is out (after impact), and if this is such a dark area, you know that something significant happened," Barry said. "You know you didn't just hit a (construction) cone."
    Nelson also argued that a jury's note to the trial judge should have been disclosed immediately. The jury wanted it read in the courtroom, in Senser's presence. "We believe, she believed she hit a car or vehicle and not a person," the note said. The judge refused that request.
    Nelson argued the note showed jurors were confused about the judge's instructions.
    Under questioning by the appeals judges, Barry conceded that it "might not have been the best thing" for the judge to delay telling attorneys about the note.
    Senser, 46, is nine months into a prison sentence of three years and five months. She did not attend the hearing, but her husband was in the courtroom.
    The panel has three months to issue an opinion.

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