Amy Senser appeals conviction

Amy Senser
Amy Senser on her way to the courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center to hear the jury's verdict in her hit-and-run case on Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Minneapolis. At right is one of her daughters. The jury found Senser guilty on two of three felony counts.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Amy Senser is appealing her conviction on vehicular homicide charges. Her attorney filed the appeal today in Hennepin County District Court. Senser, the wife of former Viking Joe Senser, was convicted two weeks ago.

In the documents, defense attorney Eric Nelson argues Senser should be acquitted or get a new trial. Nelson claims the state didn't provide any direct evidence that Senser knew she struck and killed 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong as he tried to put gas in his car on a freeway exit ramp last August.

Nelson also argues the jury didn't think Senser knew she was involved in a serious accident at the time it happened.

Nelson writes that the testimony and phone records presented during the trial support Senser's version of what happened on the night of the collision. "The series of phone calls found within the call log are consistent with Hannah Senser and her friend attempting to contact Amy Senser to learn of her whereabouts. These phone calls are not consistent with a person who knows she has just struck and killed a person."

Just before the jury delivered its verdict two weeks ago, jurors had sent judge Daniel Mabley a handwritten note saying they believed Senser when she said she was unaware that she hit a person. They asked the judge to read the note aloud before the verdicts were announced. However, Mabley denied the request.

"The court's failure to disclose jury communications to Ms. Senser was an abuse of discretion," Nelson wrote in his appeal.

Nelson also argues that the note shows the jury may have been confused about the instructions they received from the judge. Several jurors have spoken to the media since the end of the trial.

The appeal contains an excerpt from an interview conducted by KARE-11 TV in which juror Anthony Sather says jurors "could have gone either way," when asked if he thought Senser knew she hit somebody. Nelson has sent subpoenas to KARE-11 and two news organizations that interviewed the jurors.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to comment on the appeal, according to a spokesman for his office.

Senser is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

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