Inspection wraps on Toyota from fatal Minn. crash

Toyota crash
This June 10, 2006 photo shows a 1996 Camry driven by Koua Fong Lee that crashed into the back of an Oldsmobile Ciera in St. Paul, Minn. Lee said he could not stop the car. The Camry is older than those including in the recalls by Toyota for unintended acceleration problems. The crash killed three people and injured two others, all in the Oldsmobile.
AP Photo/St. Paul Pioneer Press, Thomas Whisenand

A Minnesota prosecutor says a Toyota Camry involved in a fatal crash that sent a man to prison was not included in a limited recall of some cars for a cruise control problem.

The St. Paul man who was driving the Toyota, Koua Fong Lee, is seeking a new trial in the 2006 crash that killed three people. Lee has maintained that he tried to stop his car and couldn't.

His attorneys say the cruise control may have been faulty. Toyota has recalled several newer models due to sudden acceleration problems related to their cruise control.

But Ramsey County attorney Susan Gaertner said Wednesday that the Camry had a factory cruise control, not an aftermarket model that was the focus of recalls for that model year. She spoke about the case Wednesday afternoon, after officials completed two days of inspections of the Toyota in question.

Lee's attorneys have released other evidence they claim supports Lee's claims.

Jim Cook, an expert hired by an attorney for the victims, says the filaments on the brake lights of Lee's car "exploded" inside the bulb, indicating Lee had hit the brakes and the lights were on for at least a second or two before impact.

The inspection of the car was conducted over the past two days in St. Paul.

It will be up to a judge to decide whether the inspection and other evidence gathered justify a new trial for the St. Paul man.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.