By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a court filing this week, the defense presented 113 letters asking the judge for leniency in the sentencing for Amy Senser.

Some are from powerful, influential people.

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Former Vikings coach Denny Green and former Congressman Jim Ramstad are among those asking the judge to consider not just the crime, but the entirety of Senser’s life.

Ramstad writes of Senser’s missionary work and says that society would not be served by having her imprisoned. There are letters from teenage friends of Senser’s daughters, talking about what a wonderful mother and person she is.

A number of defense attorneys have told me letters like these do make a difference in many cases. But that in this case they will almost certainly not get the Senser defense the “no prison time” goal that they are asking for.

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The judge in the case, Daniel Mabley, sentenced Timothy Bakdash, who was convicted of mowing down a group of U of M students in Dinkytown earlier this year, to more time than what prosecutors asked for. One of those students, Ben Van Handel, died as a result of his injuries. The judge ordered the 40-year sentence for Bakdash after Van Handel’s family presented him with a book filled with pictures of Van Handel’s life.

Anousone Phanthavong’s family will have their say at the sentencing.

They are the ones who have lost their loved one forever as a result of what Senser did that night. A jury has convicted her.

The letters about Senser, all 113 of them, document a life that, until that night in August, was a very good one. But Senser was not on trial for what happened before Aug. 23, 2011. She was convicted for not just what happened that night, but how she acted in the days and months afterward.

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And that is almost certainly what she will be sentenced for.

Esme Murphy