MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The man at the center of it all walked out with his wife to take a break. So did the other family whose lives were changed by the same crash in 2006.

Inside, a jury began to decide the fate of Toyota in the fatal crash involving Koua Fong Lee.

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“My gut is the jury is on the plaintiff’s side,” Trudy Baltazar said.

A strong supporter of Lee, Baltazar wrote a book about his case.  She’s spent weeks listening to the case.

“I think as long as Toyota can get away with paying less for a lawsuit than doing a recall, I think things like this are going to continue,” Baltazar said.

But in a closing statement, Toyota maintained that a mechanic confirmed Lee’s brakes were functioning. They cited Lee’s inexperience.  He had his license for just one year before the accident and Toyota officials said if the throttle had gotten stuck, it wouldn’t have accelerated to the high speed he was traveling.

The lawyer who represents Lee and the family who lost a father and two children said Lee is innocent and that all victims deserve money for damages. They said the car accelerated for six seconds and that if Lee had hit the wrong pedal, he would have realized it faster. They also said it wasn’t that the brakes didn’t work, it was that they didn’t work properly at a certain speed.

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And they talked of the pain and bills they endured.

Now, a jury of 12 men and women are deciding if Kuoa Fong Lee did something wrong or if there was something wrong with his 1996 Toyota Camry.

“I hope it will be truth prevails, I hope Minnesota will do something different here,” Baltazar said.

Toyota officials aren’t saying much through the trial, they’re just sticking by their statement that the vehicle Lee was driving was safe.

If they decide there was a defect, they then must decide if it was a direct cause of injuries to those hurt or killed when Lee crashed into another car on an Interstate 94 off-ramp.

Lee spent 2½ years in prison for the crash before being released after reports suggested that some Toyota cars had sudden acceleration problems.

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Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield