MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Though her attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case, the Hennepin County Attorney says Amy Senser’s trial should proceed.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office filed its memorandum opposing the motion to dismiss Senser’s charges in the wake of 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong’s hit-and-run death, saying “sufficient evidence exists to establish probable cause for each of the charges in the complaint.”
Panthavong was killed on Aug. 23, 2011 after being struck by a vehicle along the Riverside Avenue exit from westbound Interstate 94. Senser was charged with criminal vehicular homicide.
The amended charges claimed that Senser should’ve had at least four seconds to notice Phanthavong on the side of the road. The charges also included a statement from a witness who claimed to have seen Senser’s vehicle driving erratically, dipping between lanes and moving at inconsistent speeds.
Senser’s attorney Eric Nelson claims the case against his client lacks probable cause, and argued that Phanthavong had enough cocaine in his system to be “moving erratically and unpredictably.”
After the amended charges were released, Nelson stated he did not think the complaint proved she knew she hit a person. He said the evidence against Senser is purely circumstantial.
On Friday, a memorandum filed by county attorney Michael O. Freeman called the motion for dismissal “entirely inappropriate” and said it “should not be considered at this point in the proceedings.”
Freeman said the case is distinguishable in a number of ways from the primary case cited by Nelson as grounds for dismissal — the 2010 case of Minnesota vs. Al-Naseer. Among those differences, according to Freeman, is the fact that the crash happened on an exit ramp, not a country road carrying higher speed limits, and the lack of evidence suggesting Senser was asleep at the wheel at the time of impact, as was the defendant in the 2010 case.
Freeman’s memorandum included examples of Senser’s actions to suggest there is enough probable cause to think that Senser knew she had struck a person that night to put the question to a jury.
Nelson responded, saying he intended to file a written reply to the memorandum next week.
“The defense is concerned that such actions are merely a veiled attempt to influence potential jurors,” wrote Nelson in a statement to the media. “The Government continues to pander to the media fueling pure speculation about Ms. Senser having been impaired at the time of the accident. These allegations are currently being made in the guise of a court motion and are contrary to the State’s own evidence on this very point.”
Senser is the wife of former Minnesota Vikings player Joe Senser.