Amy Senser opening statements: Senser will testify during trial

Categories: Crime, Tragedy
Amy Senser will testify in her defense
Amy Senser will testify during her trial on criminal vehicular homicide charges, her defense attorney revealed during opening statements.

Prosecutor Deborah Russell and defense attorney Eric Nelson kept their opening arguments brief this afternoon, with each side presenting a bare outline of their cases.

Russell revealed that Joe Senser's daughter from a previous marriage, Brittani Senser, prompted Amy to reveal herself to authorities as the driver who killed Anousone Phanthavong last August. Brittani was concerned that she was a suspect in the case so she called Nelson September 1 and said he should tell the State Patrol who was driving that night "or I will."

Russell laid out the evening of August 23 for jurors: Phanthavong's car ran out of gas on the Riverside exit of I-94 around 11 p.m.

While he was filling the car with gas, he was struck and killed by an unknown vehicle. At 11:09 p.m., the first 911 call came, followed by another, and one more.

Anousone Phanthavong is dead: did Amy Senser know she ran him over?
The next day, a woman named Molly Kelly contacted the State Patrol to say that she had been driving westbound on I-94 when she noticed an SUV "driving erratically" and weaving between lanes. Kelly noticed the driver had shoulder-length blonde hair blowing in the wind.

That night, at 10:30 p.m., Nelson called the State Patrol to turn over custody of the Senser family SUV.

The next day, the Hennepin County Crime Lab began processing the vehicle. Police did not yet know who the driver had been.

On August 30, a state trooper met Senser to get her phone information and credit card numbers. On September 2, the state executed search warrants to recover the phones.

Senser's stepdaughter, Brittani, became concerned that she was a suspect, so she called Nelson September 1 and urged him to reveal Amy as the driver. The next day, Amy sent a notarized statement to police.

Representatives from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will testify about Senser's cellphone records that night and explain how they establish her whereabouts that evening.

They will also testify that text messages were deleted from Amy's phone.

Jurors will see photos of the scene, Russell said, and hear testimony from Amy Senser's daughters and their friends that Amy was supposed to pick the girls up at a Katy Perry concert in St. Paul but didn't.

In his statement, Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, thanked the jurors and then said Phanthavong's death was "without doubt" tragic.

Mike Freeman listened as prosecutor Deborah Russell exchanged opening statements with defense attorney Eric Nelson

But, Nelson said, that isn't the primary issue in this case.

To prove its case in counts one and two of criminal vehicular homicide, Nelson said, the state must prove that Senser knew she hit a person or another vehicle that night.

Nelson said he was confident the jury would find that she "did not know she hit a person," and said the evidence would prove it.

The Senser family plan for the evening was as follows: Amy would work that afternoon in Uptown, from 2 to 6:30, and Joe Senser would take their two daughters and two friends to the Xcel Energy Center for a Katy Perry concert.

Amy would head over, buy a scalped ticket, and check out the show. That plan was "essentially followed," Nelson said: Amy went to the Xcel Energy Center and bought a ticket.

Then she left.

The reason she left, Nelson said, is that she has migraines and had recently been diagnosed with a severe sinus infection by a doctor.

Amy will testify, Nelson said, that she was at the concert and decided to leave as a result of the headaches.

"That decision was tragic," Nelson said.

Joe Senser's wife is on trial for criminal vehicular homicide

But Amy will explain to the jury what she saw and felt at the Riverside exit that night. The lighting was dark, Nelson said, due to heavy construction. The overhead lights weren't operational.

The reason Amy was exiting at the Riverside exit, Nelson said, is that she'd decided to return to the Xcel Energy Center and pick up the girls. She called her daughter to say she'd be outside, Nelson said.

At around 11:30, the calls to Senser's phone began. Jurors will hear testimony, Nelson said, that Amy "sounded like she was lost," which she was due to all the construction.

Joe picked up the girls at the concert instead. The girls will testify that there was no talk of an accident, no tension or feeling that there was something wrong.

When the Sensers and friends arrived home, they found Amy's Mercedes parked in the driveway. One of the girls had a conversation with Amy on the porch.

All of that, Nelson said, points to the conclusion that Senser had "no idea" she was in an accident with a person.

Joe Senser did not attend the opening day of his wife's trial. Testimony will begin tomorrow at 9 a.m.

Anousone Phanthavong family remembers chef ahead of Amy Senser trial
True Thai head cook Anousone Phanthavong killed in hit-and-run accident
Joe Senser's bloody car seized in deadly hit and run
Amy Senser, Joe Senser's wife, was driving SUV at the time of deadly hit-and-run
Amy Senser charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide
Anna Prasomphol speaks out about local media coverage of Amy Senser hit-and-run
Joe Senser called rehab center after Amy's hit-and-run
Amy Senser was on cell phone during fatal accident, police say
Amy Senser was drinking the night she killed Phanthavong, prosecutor says
Amy Senser will stand trial for criminal vehicular homicide
Andrew Zimmern tweets in support of Chef Phanthavong, Amy Senser's victim

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help


East Coast Doug
East Coast Doug

I don't get why it's such a big deal.  So many real, violent, repeat, career criminals walk, or get a slap on the wrist.  We are going to spend our money on persecuting someone's mom, and punisher her to the max, for what?


Joe Senser and their daughters could not attend the trial yesterday as they will be called as witnesses so they are sequestered. So no scandal there. Kind of sad when your stepdaughter has to tell you and your attorney to do the right thing.

Andrea Neuerburg
Andrea Neuerburg

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  This lady is frighteningly devoid of human decency.  In her estimation, she's victimized by everything (Road construction somewhere else on the freeway, the lack of daylight at 11pm, the faulty cell phone towers that erroneously pin her location at the scene of the crime, the media, the justice system, the Katy Perry concert for causing her to venture out of her house that night), and everyone (people who consume media, the small-minded citizens of the Twin Cities, the haters in the jury pool, her stepdaughter, her attorneys for telling her not to talk to anyone, the victim's friends and family - even the man she killed (Now she has to go through all this victimization).  She's even victimized by herself (migraines, a sinus infection, getting lost, thinking she hit an over-sized traffic cone and not a person, her decision to hire the attorneys she did)I'm glad her stepdaughter stood up to her and forced to admit to her crime. I like to believe that the stepdaughter's act was not solely based on self-interest - that is to make sure that she herself was not punished for her stepmother's crime.  I want to believe that she would have done the same thing even if she wasn't afraid of being found guilty of such a crime. 


My sinus infection is so bad that I went to work and then bought scalped tickets and went to a concert, but then got drunk, hit and killed a guy then I went home and passed out on the porch. That's how bad my sinus infection was. Don't get me started on my migraines, because they're so bad my husband called rehab the morning after I hit and killed a guy. You might think I'm a privileged white douche who drives drunk and hits and kills people then tries to cover it up, calls legal advice before reporting my murder, but I'm really nice and just have a severe sinus infection.


This was much better coverage than the Star Tribune on today's trial.

wondering about amy
wondering about amy

amy is guilty. no doubt about it. why didn't joe attend the opening day of his wife's trial. now that is really odd.


I agree! Rich white women with sinus infections should automatically be allowed to drive drunk, hit and kill people with their rich white people cars and then cover it up & hide from all moral, legal and ethical obligations! Sinus infection and married to local pseudo celeb = above the law! Quit prosecuting sinus infection sufferers, and go after real criminals: poor brown people with menial jobs! How dare they get in my sinus infected way as I drive drunk!

East Coast Doug
East Coast Doug

"You might think I'm a privileged white douche "  -  class envy that's the sum of most of these posts!


Joe is Star Trib's boy.  Between them and WCCO, not sure which one is more biased.  Need some national coverage like 20/20 or 48 Hours. 


Joe has been busy deciding which restaurant to close next. He says my bad publicity from hitting and killing a guy is affecting sales, but I'm like, lay off Joe. I may have hit and killed a guy but my sinuses are infected.

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault