Prosecutors respond to Amy Senser's appeal

1:38 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Amy Senser should not get a new trial and there was plenty of evidence to convict her, according to an argument delivered on Monday by state prosecutors.

The state filed a brief in response to Senser's appeal which was filed in December.

Lee W. Barry wrote the brief as he is the attorney from the Hennepin County Attorney's office that will handle the appeal in the coming months.

Barry argued that Senser was convicted of killing 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong on substantial amounts of evidence from the scene of the crash and in the hours and days that followed.

Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, argued in his appeal that Senser was wrongfully convicted because there was not enough evidence to support either of her two criminal vehicular homicide convictions being that the statute required the state prove that Senser had actual knowledge that she hit Phanthavong when she did it.

Senser testified under oath that she did not know she hit a person that night or immediately after. Barry argued that evidence presented at trial suggested she did.

He specifically cited the circumstances of the crash scene that night. Phanthavong was standing next to his car that had its flashers activated.

He also listed in his brief actions Senser engaged in during the days following the accident; deleting some text messages, discarding the clothes she wore to the night of the crash and not coming forward publicly as the driver of the SUV that struck Phanthavong until ten days after.

Barry then addressed the issue of the note written by jurors the day they decided the verdicts before they were read in open court.

The jury sent a note to District Judge Mabley, who presided over the case.

"Can this be read in court to Ms. Senser? We believe, she believed, she hit a vehicle and not a person."

Judge Mabley did not read the note in open court nor did he advise the attorney's of it before the verdict was read.

Nelson believes that note shows the jury was confused on what they were to decide and wrongfully convicted her. He said he should have at least been told about it in open court so that it could be addressed.

In the state's filing Monday, Barry sided with Judge Mabley in his decision not to share the note, saying it was "housekeeping" in nature and did not need to be addressed in court.

Nelson has 15 days to respond in writing to the state's response.  Once that happens the Court of Appeals will schedule the hearing. It has 90 days to issue a ruling after that hearing.

Amy Senser has been in prison since her sentencing on July 9. She was sentenced to three years and five months in jail.

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