Vehicle In Hit-And-Run Registered To Joe Senser

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Authorities say a vehicle believed to be involved in a deadly hit-and-run last week belongs to former Vikings player Joe Senser, but they did not say who they think may have been behind the wheel.

According to a search warrant, the gold 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML350 that was located and connected with the death of 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong is registered to Senser, of Edina.

Phanthavong was killed on the Cedar-Riverside exit of westbound Interstate 94 on Aug. 23. He was filling his car with gas on the off-ramp when he was hit by the SUV. Phanthavong died from his injuries. He had severe trauma to multiple areas of his body, consistent with being struck by an automobile, according to a search warrant filed in Hennepin County.

That warrant also said that investigators found pieces of the vehicle at the scene of the crime and were able to determine the make of the vehicle.

Attorney Eric Nelson, with Halberg Criminal Defense, said the Senser family contacted him the morning after the crash and by 10 p.m. that night they contacted the State Patrol. He said within 20 minutes, a trooper arrived to the Senser home to inspect the vehicle, which was handed over voluntarily.

“It’s a tragic situation. The whole family is upset,” Nelson said. “The Senser’s recognize the tragedy, and they are coping with the tragedy, and they are attempting to be as cooperative as they can throughout this whole process.”

Nelson gave the keys to officers and directed them to the Mercedes-Benz. A trooper saw front-end damage on the passenger side, including on the fender, and what looked like blood on the hood.

It was taken to the Hennepin County Crime Lab and a search turned up a bobby pin, a set of earrings, a bottle as well as a Mike’s bottle cap inside the vehicle.

Nelson confirmed the vehicle is owned by Senser, but did not say who may have been driving.

“The United State Constitution, the Minnesota Constitution provide every person with the right against self-incrimination, and the Senser’s decision not to communicate who was driving is based on our advice at this point,” Nelson said.

He said Senser and his family are deeply saddened by this incident and may release a statement Friday.

“Why leave the scene of an accident?  I suppose a person has to know they’re involved in an accident,” said Nelson. “Someone who was driving would have to know they are involved in an accident. If you don’t know you are involved in an accident, who’s to say you were involved in an accident.”

Nelson added the area is a construction site, and the person driving could have thought “was it a deer, was it a construction cone, was it a car, was it something else.”

Minnesota State Patrol Spokesperson Lt. Eric Roeske, gave his own thoughts on the crash the next day. 

“To just him them and drive away and not realize they did it, it just isn’t conceivable,” he said.

No arrests have been made.

Phantavong was a head chef at True Thai Restaurant in Minneapolis, where he had worked for eight years.

Senser was a tight end for the Minnesota Vikings in the early 1980s and currently owns several Joe Senser’s Restaurant and Sports Theaters around the Twin Cities.

Senser also provides commentary for WCCO Radio on University of St. Thomas football.

  • Hit-And-Run Car Linked To Joe Senser « CBS Minnesota

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  • Mark

    Some Bimbo was driving it – come on JS – fess up!
    I agree – this reeks of favoritism. Any of us……..we’d be in jail

  • B.Grant

    Senser is lawyered up tight..won’t answer any questions at this time on the advice of counsel..They are determining who to name as the driver..

  • Marie

    Why hasn’t the driver been identified? If an ordinary person had owned a car involved in a hit and run, the name and photo would have been released immediately upon finding the car.
    I guess the State Patrol have to make sure everything they do in this investigation is proper and no mistakes made, since their will likely be several high-priced lawyers working to defend the driver. Throw the book at the driver, of course I know that won’t happen.

    • ez

      No one has been charged yet, under mn state law they can’t release the id yet.

    • Joe

      Because the family is not talking. If there’s no proof of who was driving, then there can be no charges. The Sensers KNOW who was driving, but think that they don’t have to take responsibility for it because rich people are better than everyone else.

      This is a cheap, low-life tactic and I hope the pressure of living with this secret tears their family apart.

  • busted

    OHHH and earrings! LOL

    So busted! Divorce!

    • Cya

      why the wife? He has a duaghter. She was at the Big Ten o’er the weekend…….just sayin’
      Don’t jump to conclusions-more here than meets the eye

  • Fed up with it all

    You know a football player will walk free on this. Kevin is right anyone else would be sitting in the jail right now. I say people should botcott Joe Senser’s Restaurant. I had fat fingers on last pos. Unlike most people in this “I only want to feel good state and ” and “GO VIKES people ” , I can admit that I was wrong and had trouple typing and proofing my comment.

  • MIke

    Why isn’t the owner of the vehicle in jail on contempt charges? How in the name of goodness can a vehicle registered to a particular individual not have been brought before a judge to disclose who was driving the vehicle? This is BS!
    Why do the wealthy have different set if laws than the rest of us? Come on district attorney start pressing charges……………..

    • Iconoclast

      Contempt of Court? For violating what court rule or ruling exactly?

    • Guy

      They are all “takinging the ‘fifth'” … probably on the advice of the lawyer.

    • Craig

      This is a tragic event, but in MN we have County attorneys, not DA’s. The County Attny nor a judge can make someone confess, likewise you can’t charge someone for taking the 5th.

  • snowman

    helps to be a rich celebrity

  • MN nice

    Is he somali ??

    • me

      yes – he just hides it very well

  • Beans

    I knew something fishy was up when they found the SUV but not the driver…Now I know why. It’s dad out to protect one of his 4 daughters. I thought it was someone young driving the car and went home to get mom and dad to protect them with a lawyer. If it was Joe the Common man the authorities would have said more. This county is a going to heck. Teach the driver a lesson and don’t let them skate.
    I for one have had my last meal ever at Sensor’s Sports Bar, This just is par for the course for this country. No wonder justice gets no respect.

  • Stein Tenold

    This is like the move “Michael Clayton “, pretty good b t w. Wealthy people have high-priced lawyer’s to delay justice or worse, get away w/ murder. Now this case could take yrs. before a Judge has his or her say and a jury can deliberate over all the fact’s but if Mr. Sensor is guilty , sooner the better for the victim’s family and all involved. The Truth will set u free, or get u 5-7 yrs Mr.Sensor…

  • Guy

    Earrings & bobby pin means its probably the wife or one of the daughters (unless Joe is a major closet case :) ). They ran because they were probably DRUNK (“Mikes” has alcohol). The whole family KNOWS WHO the guilty one is – they should ALL be tossed in jail as accessories after the fact. Keep them in jail until someone decides to come clean.

  • idtapit

    Joe’s wife is guilty and very hot!

  • Mike B

    Unfortunately, something bad has happened, but when you drive away you are guilty. I am done with Sensers. Sorry.

  • Angus

    Joe is a nasty arrogant )()_&^*% but he has money and sports hero so everyone, if the person who did it is a Senser, will walk. After all, the victim is a minority so don’t worry about it. Maybe a $1,000,000 civil lawsuit will get their attention.

    • Sandy

      Actually Angus, no he isn’t and I highly doubt you have EVER met him personally so with that being said, where are you actually coming from here? You could not be more wrong, find something else to do or comment on.

      • Joe

        Let’s see…. Rich guy hides family behind lawyer so no one has to inconveniently take responsibility for KILLING A MAN.

        Does that pretty much sum up “where we’re coming from” for you?

        yeah.. I can think of much better terms than “arrogant )()_&^*%” Wanna hear some of them?

      • not so to all Sandy

        If ou are not in the inner circle Sanndy …. Joe can be an arrogant JA
        yeah — I have dealt with him many times so I do know what I am saying Sandy

  • Jeff

    It would be impossible to hit someone and not know it. Bunch of killers and liars.

  • Jeff

    I’m boycotting WCCO because Senser works for them too

  • Typinator

    … liberty and justice for all? I don’t think so. If you want justice you gotta pay for it. You want to avoid justice you gotta pay for it. If you want liberty and freedom you gotta pay to play. Some say, “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best system there is.” I say it’s the best system for a select few and also say it’s simply the best cow pie on the top of the manure pile and it doesn’t need to stink so bad. It can be changed and improved, but those who can pay like it just the way it is.

  • JDS

    Do not blame the police. They are going to do everything by the book, and make no errors. There is Probable Cause needed to arrest. You cant just arrest the owner because it could have been someone else. Place the blame squarly on the shoulders of this family. Who ever was driver hit and killed someone but elected to flee without helping and being held accountable. Then they hide behind lawyers. Let the police do their job and see whats happens in the end.

    • Guy

      Arrest the WHOLE FAMILY as ACCESSORES AFTER THE FACT & conspiracy to obstruct justice – They ALL know who was driving & that makes ALL of the other members accountable if THEY don’t ‘fess up (the 5’th only applies to the one who DID the deed)

  • Molly

    I’m sick and tired of the rich&famous always getting a free pass …with their criminal activity. Whoever in that Sensor family that killed this man and then just drove off MUST be held accountable and thrown in jail like the rest of us would be. the person murdered this man. I’m completely through with WCCO,,, if they have someone like Joe Sensor employed I will have no part of that station or his resturant.

  • Susan

    Very sad, I use to work for Joe and he is a great guy, a family tragedy but that makes no difference when it comes to the law and sadley, like all drinking and driving related incidents, the price needs to be paid and people need to WISE up, you cannot drink and drive, which sadley I suspect is the case here, leave the accident, etc. Pay attention folks, get off your cell, quit text messaging, get a cab, 1 is too many – people drive like idiots already why add to the mix? RIP to the victim, if I were his family I would prosecute to the hilt!

  • Right With Ya

    Me too, Kevin. And I’ll bring the pie ; )

  • kevin

    Go to his website and leave a comment! I did!!!! Tell them how you feel! Stand up!

  • Susan

    Billy Bob fits to a T!

  • imdone

    i wont go to that bar again im sick of making people rich with my money, sports, music, bars, good bye

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