Amy Senser charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide

Categories: Crime
amy senser mugshot.jpg
Amy Senser's mugshot after her arrest this morning.
As the family of Anousone Phanthavong looked on, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that his office is charging Amy Senser with felony criminal vehicular homicide.

But the short, one-page criminal complaint yields far more questions than answers.

"The investigation is not yet complete," Freeman said. "Right now, in the file, there's sufficient evidence to charge."

According to the complaint Anousone Phanthavong was returning from work at True Thai when his Honda Accord ran out of gas at the onramp to 94-E. As he was walking to the car carrying a blue gasoline tank, he was struck on his right side by a vehicle that did not stop to assist him. The complaint says Phanthavong's body was forty feet in front of his car and that he'd been thrown out of his shoes. The 38-year-old chef was declared dead on arrival.

Strewn around the scene were several bloody car parts, including a headlight from a Mercedes.

mike freeman senser.jpg
County Attorney Freeman on the lawn of the downtown government center.
Working through their attorney Eric  Nelson, the Senser family contacted state troopers the next day and turned over their Mercedes ML350. It was found in the Senser's garage with blood still on the hood. The complaint says the passenger side had a broken headlight and fog light, and the fender was also dented.

Ten days after the accident, Amy Senser released a statement to authorities admitting she was the driver. Other than that confession, she has since invoked her 5th amendment right not to incriminate herself.

Today it was revealed that Senser is facing a single count of felony criminal vehicular operation, which comes with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a $20,000 fine. She turned herself in earlier today, but has already posted bail.

Freeman declined to comment on whether alcohol was involved in the accident, saying the investigation is incomplete. Despite speculation that Amy Senser may be taking the fall for one of her daughters, Freeman affirmed that Amy was the driver but wouldn't elaborate on how that conclusion was reached.

family of Anousone Phanthavong.jpg
Anousone Phanthavong's niece and sister listen to the county attorney's announcement.
"Having a confession from the defendant isn't a bad way to start," he said wryly.

When asked for a response to allegations from Senser's lawyer that the county attorney's office rushed the charges to appease the public, Freeman said simply, "He's wrong."

Jim Schwebel, the attorney for the Phanthavong family, appeared with Anousone's sister Vilayphone and niece Souksavanh. The two women held hands and listened silently as Schwebel responded briefly to the announcement.

"The family is relieved that there have finally been criminal charges filed in this case," he said. "We remain committed to searching for the truth of what happened that evening."

Since the family has filed a civil suit against the Sensers, Schwebel says his investigation will reveal far more than today's criminal charges do. He said they plan to find out if Senser was drinking or on drugs, or if she was alone at the time of the accident.

Thumbnail image for eric nelson.jpg
The Sensers's attorney, Eric Nelson.
"We certainly believe that there are people out there that know what Amy Senser was doing that night," he said. "We will find them."

The Phanthavongs are seeking damages upwards of $50,000 in the wrongful death suit.

Eric Nelson, the Senser's attorney, spoke last to express "surprise" at the speed with which the charges came down, speculating public outcry affected the decision. He said that proving whether or not Senser knew she'd hit a person, not just an object, would be a pivotal piece in the case.

"Her prime concern is the family," said Nelson of the Phanthavongs. "It may not seem that way because she's exercising her constitutional rights."

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42 comments
Lulz
Lulz

*Yawn* everyone knows it was one of the daughters. Why would mommy be in dirty dangerous Minneapolis right after a Katy Perry concert?

Commoncents
Commoncents

Never understood why people drive until they are out of gas....

betty boop
betty boop

How can you not know you hit a person????!!! Really????!!!! I think she was drunk, thats why she drove away. how could she sleep that night knowing she hit someone & might have killed them??? her husband is just as guility as her for not turning her in. i hope they lose everything they have after the victims family is done with them!!!!!! what horrible people, but since her husband was a football player she probably will get away with this. Or just a slap on the wrist, sorry people but thats how our justice system works!!!!! you can get away with murder!!!!!!!!

Sob
Sob

everyone on this post is so smart and knows so much about the facts. wow amazing. you would think you all were there and actually experienced it. you all may as well pass judgement as long as you are being asked.

God
God

And, remember, if you visit Joe Senser's lame bar and grill now or in the future, you're helping pay for the defense of Amy--a woman who left a man to die on the road, and Joe--who left that SUV in his garage.  I will never eat there again.  (always was a bad experience there anyway).

East Coast Doug
East Coast Doug

I see the Marxists ready to condem the woman - just because she's wealthly (sorta)

KarmaKnows
KarmaKnows

Normally, in a hit and run, there would be a public notice for law enforcement to track down the perpetrator, and as soon as that person is found, he/she would immediately be behind bars. That didn't happen here, not for 21 days after the incident. Even Mike Freeman is going out of his way to state his neutrality...even as he is the top law enforcement "prosecutor" in Minneapolis! This is classic cover for what we all suspect...Amy Senser was drunk or drugged, and fled the scene, luckily made it home, consulted the family attorney, told to lay low, don't say anything, and delay admitting or turning herself in for as long as possible until there is no trace of drugs or alcohol. Which is more criminal, the hit and run, or the intentional hiding from the law? Will the media stop protecting one of their own (Joe Senser), already?

Dan Frye
Dan Frye

Lesson: Don't smoke meth before taking a booking picture.

Hope
Hope

Amy and Joe have two daughters together.  THEY are not old enough to drive.  The two older girls, in their twenties, are from Joe's first marriage.  Amy confessed, and is willing to take the punishment, and will be forever punished, in one way or another.  This is nothing that we should judge. We are not the victims, nor the attorneys, nor are we Amy.   This could have happened to YOU and to me.  Any of us who drive. 

Albatross
Albatross

I'll be interested in seeing the evidence (assuming they go to trial and don't settle) that she was at the wheel.  I've heard rumors that it might have been one of their children at the wheel, and their mother decided to take the fall for them.

Marie Porter
Marie Porter

Proper thing. Throw the book at her.  I hope the victims' family bleeds the Sensers dry, I CANNOT imagine what they are going through.  I am thoroughly disgusted that the Sensers lack honor and HUMANITY to the point that they apparently do.

Firstave
Firstave

gotta keep track of mpg's. if the restaurants suffer then maybe they should offer better drink specials and perhaps spearhead an integrated cab with table service. i don't really care all the restaurants are near other restaurants with comparable specials i feel for having to hear about all this b.s. i need an incentive to go to sensers. Plus maybe they should have looked into Chubb maybe better coverage.

a
a

Well you obviously don't know much  - because or you can do is sob. 

NOTaFAN
NOTaFAN

stay away from that place everyone, please.  they are not humans.  they're wrong.  lets not support criminals.

insertusernamehere
insertusernamehere

Actually, let's assume the Senser's are ordered to pay out some massive fine as financial compensation for leaving the scene of an accident.  Remember people, hitting someone with a car is not a crime.  Driving while drunk is, and leaving an accident where someone is injured or killed is.  People seem to not be able to tell the difference between murder and anything else where a person died.  Look it up people, it's not hard.

Stop thinking she's going to get penalized like she waltzed into a bar and knifed someone.  There will be no death penalty.  She might get some prison time, there will probably be some financial restitution.

Stop thinking that the money paid out is going to make the family "feel all better".  People in their situation always get bitter.  How would you feel, really, if something happened.  Great, so you have *some* cash.  Have fun spending it, because you can't.  Every time you use it to pay the mortgage, buy groceries, or whatever, you'll remember someone died for it.  Someone died for it, completely randomly.  The guy could have been killed by anyone, at any time.

But let's assume the Senser's get fined, any money they have to pay out, will surely have already been earned.  And most of that is surely not even a large portion of that is from their restaurants.  Do you think people like Joe Senser open restaurants to make money?  They do it because it makes them feel important.  For crying out loud most restaurants fail or bleed money.

But just remember, since you have been there multiple times (always implies multiple visits), then you've just paid the Senser's.  OMG you put money in their hands!  You are so evil. 

Get over yourself.

Some guy guy shot in South Minneapolis a few days ago.  Purely intentional.  You don't see 100 people crying about that, now do you?  The guy was just dropping someone off, they didn't pull any Darwin awards like letting their car run out of gas.  I bet 80% of the people whining and crying in this thread have driven drunk, texted, fixed their makeup, ate a greasy fast food cheeseburger, or countless otheroffenses in the last MONTH.

And you all think you're saints.  This could very well have been you driving that car.  You've driven while not paying attention, just like she was.

The only difference is, you're on the internet, vomitting up nonsense.  This is between the person driving the car, the police, and the family of the person who was hit.  Not you and your peddly, "Oh no, I'm boycotting that crappy restaurant to make myself feel better.  I'm making a difference!"

Magbag8282
Magbag8282

Marxists?  What article are you commenting on?  I'm ready to "condem the woman" based on the fact that she said she did it.

green23
green23

Who is condemning her because she's wealthy (sorta)?

Her story doesn't add up.  That's the point.

It's not "Marxist" to say that someone who drives an expensive Mercedes would be immediately concerned about damage that involved the loss of a headlight and a dent to the fender. Yet, she did not stop to even look at the damage to her vehicle. And she did not file an insurance claim for the considerable damage to her vehicle. That's pretty unusual behaviour. And she only came forward after she had been tracked down and presented with the evidence that it was obvious that the vehicle had struck someone.

They found blood splattered on the hood of the car. Is it "Marxist" to think that she should have noticed that?

She's already admitted that she was the driver. Is it "Marxist" to condemn an admitted criminal whose actions killed a man?

 You have very strange definition of "Marxist". Apparently, a "non-Marxist" would just shrug and let her get away with killing someone. Hell, they wouldn't even ask any questions about the matter, because they wouldn't want to seem biased against the wealthy (sorta).

guest
guest

If it happened to me and even if I didn't know what I hit, I would still STOP. Just sayin.

a
a

I don't drink or drive, and if I ever hit someone or something, I would have the dignity to stop and check.

Ksmith1422
Ksmith1422

not is you no how to drive she is disgusting and should never be allowed to drive ever again.  Amy's a liar and a Cover up.  I feel sorry for her kids living with a liar.

Bilky
Bilky

Most of us would do the right thing right away, is the difference. A freaking hospital was RIGHT THERE. Stop defending cowardly actions.

MHo
MHo

Where did you hear this?

Waitandsee
Waitandsee

All of you judgemental people who have her tried and convicted are pathetic. Even the newer immigrants have learned quick the democratic party american way; Sue sue sue. These morons have already filed a civil lawsuit, and there wasnt even an arrest yet. Most normal humans would at least wait until after the criminal trial so they know who to sue because confessions mean nothing until after the trial.Minnesotans are some of the dumbest ppl on earth. One look at our politicians proves that. Stuart Smalley, Senator, Mark Dayton Gov, lol... And now we have these people learning the Mn way real fast; proving they dont care about the lost loved one, he's just a money pail to them or they would of had the respect to wait until the proper time.

I bet all of you who have criticized the Sensors would have done the same thing at the scene; its always the people who have never been in war, or in a tragic situation who say THEY would have done the right thing, lol..None of you have any idea how you would react until the time comes. YOU would have done the right thing and earned the medal of honor - ya sure. You so called perfect humans are revolting.

Bilky
Bilky

Again, the difference is that we would do the RIGHT THING, RIGHT AWAY. Nice brain fart,though!

NOTaFAN
NOTaFAN

thats the human thing to do!  amy senser is a dog.

Hope
Hope

Not if he was walking, it was dark, a construction zone, and I thought I hit a cone. 

Albatross
Albatross

Ed Stych, Web Producer, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, reported it from Fox 9. I posted a link but that is waiting moderation, so meantime throw that in Google along with Senser.

have2say
have2say

you are the biggest MORON.......i hope one day you'd be a victim of a hit and run accident yourself, paralysed waist down and see if you'd sue sue sue or simply sing "Que sara sara, whatever wil be will be....." 

Magbag8282
Magbag8282

What the hell is wrong with you???

Budster55113
Budster55113

Hay your an A hole.She didn't stop [Saying she  didn't know she hit something,Ya right] and coming forward [her attorney]10 days latter. I hate it when, if not all,people bring a suit againt whatever happened to them to.

green23
green23

Did you "condemn" Ted Kennedy at the time? Does that make you a Marxist, a hypocrite, or both?

Magbag8282
Magbag8282

A cone that bled all over her vehicle?  What is wrong with you people?  This woman left another human being to die on the side of the road.  The facts are not in dispute, she's admitted to hitting him.

Budster52
Budster52

You still stop and look at your car to see the damage if their is any you fool

green23
green23

Do cones splatter blood all over the hood of your car or break your headlight? 

You don't hit someone and throw them forty feet without knowing there was an impact. She must have known that she hit something more substantial than a cone. Why wouldn't she stop at her earliest convenience at least to survey the damage to the expensive Mercedes? Usually people with expensive vehicles like that would freak out if they thought the paint was even scratched.

My mom hit a coyote three weeks ago. She stopped immediately. Not because she was concerned about the coyote, but because she was concerned about the damage to her car. An adult male weighs considerably more than a coyote, and far more than a cone.

Losing a headlight is also something that is readily apparent to a driver at night. To presume that she didn't notice that, even when she got home, is completely ridiculous.

And, somehow, it took her TEN DAYS to admit that she was the driver that hit the "cone" - a mysteriously heavy "cone" that dented her fender and left blood behind. And no insurance claim was filed for the damage from the "cone", either. Because nobody with a Mercedes has comprehensive coverage.

Yeah, she thought she hit a cone. That's the only thing that makes sense. She was really worried that MNDOT would charge her $3.95 to replace the cone, so she had to be really sure about the whole thing before she came forward.

Your facile excuses simply do not hold up to even casual scrutiny.

a
a

option one - You hit something that does damage to your car - what do you do? wait till you get home?  You examine the car when you get home, see blood and damage, but do nothing??? Very strange.option two - you hit something, are drunk, worried, and decide to vanish hoping that you can sort it out later with legal representation and that your alcohol wears off...

Ksmith1422
Ksmith1422

why would you defend this liar!!!!! She deserves a lifetime in Prison!!!!

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

Hope, the ramp was very well lit, the construction was at the top of the ramp not on the ramp, and he was on the north side (a careless driver would probably hit the south side of the ramp, the only way to hit someone on the north side would be to oversteer your turn to the right). The ramp is also wide enough for two lanes of traffic and his car was pulled onto the shoulder. He was next to the car when he was hit, as his car was damaged. His body ended up forty feet from the car. Also, traffic cones don't leave blood on your car.

Zeroisanumber
Zeroisanumber

I can accept that it was an accident, but the idea that she didn't know that she hit a person is totally incredible.

a
a

Coke heads all of them.

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