Exonerated St. Paul man seeks state compensation

Koua Fong Lee
Koua Fong Lee embraces his wife, Panghoua Moua, outside of the Ramsey County jail, moments after learning that Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner would not seek a new case against Lee.
Tom Weber / MPR News 2010

A Minnesota man is seeking compensation from the state under a newly enacted wrongful imprisonment law after a judge threw out his conviction in a fatal car crash.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports 37-year-old Koua Fong Lee of St. Paul spent nearly three years in prison for criminal vehicular homicide after he crashed his Toyota Camry into another car in 2006, killing three people. He was released in 2010 after evidence surfaced that showed similar cars had issues with sudden acceleration.

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Lee's attorneys have filed in Ramsey County court for payment from the state under the law that took effect July 1. Lee testified before the Legislature for the act, which provides a minimum of $50,000 per year of imprisonment.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says Lee is eligible based on his exoneration.