Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Amy Senser will soon take the stand in an attempt to convince jurors she didn’t know she hit a person with a car last summer.
Senser’s trial got off to a quick start Monday as both jury selection and opening statements took place.
Eight men and six women were picked to hear the case. Most said they were familiar with the crash that killed Anousone Phanthavong.
Senser’s SUV hit and killed him last August as he was putting gas in his car on an exit ramp off Interstate 94.
Opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense only lasted a total of 25 minutes. But in that time it became clear how both sides will try to win over the jury.
The prosecution said Senser only came forward as the driver after her step-daughter, Brittani, became concerned that she was being looked at as a suspect.
Brittani told Senser’s attorney, Eric Nelson, that if Senser didn’t tell authorities, she would.
Joseph Daly, a lawyer and a professor at Hamline University, said Senser has to take the stand to explain what happened that night.
Daly thinks it’s a risky move for Senser to take the stand. Prosecutors could make her look guilty, even if she isn’t.
“You can bet the prosecution is going to very much come after her on cross examination,” Daly said. “They will throw everything they can, including the kitchen sink.”
The prosecution will use witness testimony, cell phone records and evidence taken from Senser’s SUV in an attempt to show she was driving recklessly.
But Senser’s lawyer said he plans to use that same evidence to show she was lost and didn’t realize she hit a person. Nelson told the court Monday that all the evidence points to the conclusion that Senser had no idea she hit a Phanthavong.
As Senser left court, one woman made it known she believes Senser is guilty. But Senser will now take the stand to try and prove her innocence.
Daly said it’s highly unusual to have both jury selection and opening arguments happen all in the same day, especially for such a high-profile case. At this time, it’s uncertain how long the trial will go on.
He said Senser may be able to prove she didn’t know she hit a person, but it will be harder for her to prove she wasn’t driving recklessly.
The jury has been told not to talk with anyone about the case or watch the news.