Amy Senser's appeal hinges on awareness of accident

Amy Senser sentencing
Amy Senser, right, arrives Monday, July 9, 2012, at the Hennepin County Courthouse for her sentencing on two felony counts stemming from a fatal hit-and-run crash last summer. At left is her attorney Eric Nelson.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

The Minnesota Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday to reconsider Amy Senser's conviction in the hit-and-run death of a Roseville man.

The wife of former Minnesota Vikings player Joe Senser was convicted of two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide May 3, 2012. She was sentenced to 41 months in prison for striking and killing Anousone Phanthavong on the side of an Intersate 94 ramp.

Initial arguments at the Court of Appeals centered on whether Senser knew she had hit someone.

During a roughly 40-minute session, Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, argued Senser never saw Phanthavong. He told the three-judge panel that Senser left her vehicle in plain sight, where witnesses could see the damage. He said the district court that decided her case mishandled jury communications and incorrectly suppressed evidence.

"She was acting casually upon the arrival of other members of her family and friends," Nelson said. "None of that behavior is consistent with a person who has actual knowledge that they just struck and killed someone."

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Lee Barry told the court that given the facts of the case, there was no rational way to argue Senser didn't know she had hit something.

"Somebody's who's conscious and aware of their surroundings and their car hits --- involved in the circumstances that are involved here, would know what happened," Barry said.

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