Attorney says Amy Senser should be given new trial

7:32 PM, May 19, 2012   |    comments
  • Amy Senser, left, and defense attorney Eric Nelson
  • Criminal defense attorney Joe Friedberg
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MINNEAPOLIS - Friday's motion by Amy Senser's defense attorney to be acquitted on her felony convictions or be given a new trial isn't surprising but it is significant because many legal minds tend to think Amy Senser was wrongly convicted.

"I believe that the trial judge would be well advised to issue a new trial order in this case if not a judgment of acquittal," criminal defense attorney Joe Friedberg said.

Senser was convicted of two felonies for her role in a fatal hit-and-run accident on August 23, 2011, that killed 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong.

Here are the reasons why, according to defense attorney Eric Nelson, in Friday's motion filed in Hennepin County:

Nelson is arguing that the evidence presented in the case and a note the jury sent to the judge before the verdict was read proves that the jury believed she was not guilty of criminal vehicular homicide.

Nelson says the charge against Senser provides the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Senser knew she hit a person at the time of the accident or immediately after.

But the note the jury gave the judge said "we believe she believed she hit a car or vehicle and not a person."

"With the verdict based on that, she is entitled to be found not guilty because hitting a vehicle doesn't constitute the crime that she is charged with," Friedberg said of that note.

Another reason, Nelson argues, are the jury instructions themselves.

The judge instructed the jury that to find Senser guilty of the first two counts of criminal vehicular homicide they had to know beyond a reasonable doubt that she either hit a person that night and knew it or hit a vehicle that night and knew it.

That is suspect, Nelson argued, because Senser wasn't claiming she thought she hit a vehicle, nor was she was being prosecuted by the state for hitting a vehicle and fleeing the scene.

So finding guilt on something, Nelson is saying, she wasn't tried on violates Senser's rights to due process.

"In this case we know what the jury thought; we know what the law is," Friedberg said. "They don't go together, she should be acquitted."

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