MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals denied the appeal from Amy Senser on her guilty verdict in the 2011 death of Anousone Panthavong.
The court on Monday said, “Our careful review of the record in its entirety convinces us that Senser received a fair trial. The evidence presented here was more than sufficient to show that she left the scene of an accident despite knowing that she had struck a car or a person.”
Senser was found guilty of criminal vehicular homicide, though her defense attorney argued she never knew she hit Panthavong, who was filling his car with gas on a darkened exit ramp on Interstate 94 in August 2011.
The prosecution argued that Senser was drunk on the night of the accident and said she intentionally fled the scene.
Senser’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that the judge made a number of mistakes in the case, including not immediately revealing a note jurors wrote after the verdict saying jurors believed she knew she had hit a car that night.
The note, from the jury foreperson, asked the judge to read the following message to Senser in the courtroom. The note said, “We believe, she believed she hit a car or vehicle and not a person.” The defense argued that showed the jury was confused.
“The district court properly instructed the jury concerning the charges and acted well within its discretion in resolving the parties’ many motions and the evidentiary issues that arose in this hotly contested and high-profile case,” the Court of Appeals ruled. “Because any abuse of discretion relating to admission of impeachment evidence or the timing of disclosure of the jury’s note did not affect Senser’s substantial rights or the jury’s verdict, these two errors were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Senser is serving a 41-month sentence at the Women’s Prison in Shakopee, of which she’s served ten months so far. She is scheduled for supervised release in October 2014.