Anousone Phanthavong family remembers chef ahead of Amy Senser trial

Categories: Crime, Tragedy

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Anousone Phanthavong's niece speaks out before Amy Senser's trial
For Anousone Phanthavong's parents, justice will come once they reach the "peace of mind that their son just didn't die like roadkill on the street."

Cindi Phanthavong, Anousone's niece, spoke to reporters this afternoon about her dead uncle, who she described as a quiet, "hard-working man" who would do "everything" for his family.

Amy Senser, wife of Minnesota Vikings star Joe Senser, will stand trial next week on charges of criminal vehicular homicide for running over Phanthavong in her Mercedes last August.

Phanthavong, formerly the head chef at True Thai restaurant, was a selfless man, according to Cindi, who cared deeply for his family.

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Amy Senser killed Anousone Phanthavong
"He does everything for his family. He doesn't expect anything for himself," Cindi said. "He'll take jeans and a T-shirt and give his all to my grandparents. That's all he ever cared for: T-shirt and jeans. He needed nothing else."

Her big memory of Anousone, Cindi said, is that he never forgot his relatives.

"No matter how much he struggled as a cook, he would never, ever forget," Cindi said. "He worked so much but never forget about my grandparents, never left us behind, just always called in and checked on us, little things, [like] calling, stopping by maybe two minutes, popping his head in."

Cindi, 27, described Anousone, who was 38 at the time of his death, as being like a father, a brother, and a friend. He was "cool" and "strict," Cindi said, and always looked out for her.

The last time she talked with her uncle, Cindi said, was a couple days before he was killed. Anousone tried to give her guidance.

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Anna Prasomphol employed Phanthavong and his niece, Cindi
"He just told me not to go out too much and keep myself safe and stay home with my kids," Cindi said. "Something a father would tell me."

In addition to sharing blood, Cindi and her uncle were colleagues at True Thai restaurant for almost six years.

Anousone was "soft" and "caring," Cindi said, and also "shy." He didn't like to be photographed and avoided the spotlight, preferring to live his life "low."

Anousone lived alone, about 15 minutes from his parents, who live just a few minutes from True Thai restaurant. That made it "easy for him to hop in and out" during slow hours at work, and check in on his parents, Cindi said. He used to work every day, Cindi said, often for 10 hours a day.

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Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office has charged Amy Senser with felony criminal vehicular homicide
It used to make Anousone happy when his nieces and nephews would visit True Thai.

"He would love when they came to the restaurant," Cindi said. Cindi has two children, an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter, who Anousone always asked about.

Cindi thinks Anousone learned to cook from her grandfather and great-grandfather in Laos, when he was a teenager.

The family keeps close watch on the case, Cindi says. Her grandparents call every time they hear something about the Senser case in the media. Cindi said she believes that the Senser case exposes a class issue in our society.

"Yes, I do," Cindi said.

The media, Cindi said, seemed to focus on Amy Senser being "the victim." But her family has had much support from the public, which she appreciates.

"There is a lot of support from everywhere, and we're very very thankful for all the support that there is," Cindi said.

Cindi said the family wants "justice" in this case. For her, it's about putting her grandparents at ease.

"He's already in peace," Cindi said. "Now it's just for my grandparents to be at peace and just, a weight off their shoulders."

She hopes that her grandparents won't have to wake up and watch the news to see "what else are they going to say about [their] son."

Cindi's attorney forbade her from answering questions about the trial. But asked what justice in this context meant, Cindi said, "For my grandparents' peace of mind that their son just didn't die like roadkill on the street."

Still, Cindi says the family will be able to forgive Amy Senser someday.

"Whenever she takes responsibility," Cindi said.

Previous
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

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11 comments
Brian
Brian

Was he his happiness to see his niece an nephew due to the fact that he was blitzed on cocaine?

Dylan
Dylan

the senser family is a disgrace the least they could do is offer the family all their money... i dont go the the senser restaurant anymore now that I know their families true character...

Stormesweet
Stormesweet

Where You At:

Legal medications are well-known (except by you, apparently) to register as false-positive for cocaine use.  These include Amoxicillin, and topical anesthetics, as well as medications for health conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes.  So you cannot assume that Anousone Phanthavong had a "coke habit".  Don't believe anything Amy Senser's attorneys spit out.  They only have to prove reasonable doubt, and this is one of their many attempts to do so.  There will be many more lame attempts, I'm sure.

Where You At?
Where You At?

I find it funny that Cindi didn't mention Anousone Phanthavong's cocaine habit in this article.

Where You At?
Where You At?

Because, you know....there is only one side to a story.......

YeahOK
YeahOK

what does someone with cocaine in their blood have anything to do with getting hit by a car while filling up the gas tank. No one, not even the Senser lawyers have tried to allege that he or his car were anywhere they should not have been doe to something in his blood. Besides which, I have never seen anyone except the most afflicted urban crackheads moving "erratically" under the influence of any drug. I fail to see how there is any "other side" to the story in terms of this detail. Nice try though.

CharlieQuimby
CharlieQuimby

My comment below was sarcastic, which is a form of re-spouting other people's nonsense. Let me unwind it for you. Anousone was filling his car with gas on a roadside and was struck by a hit and run driver. Whether or not he has used drugs or had traces of a drug in his system does not make that okay. Your bringing up "his habit" seemed to indicate it somehow balanced the story.

A man dies in the street and his body gets tested. The driver who killed him runs home, sobers up and lawyers up to work on both sides of the story.

Stormesweet
Stormesweet

Where You At:Legal medications are well-known (except by you, apparently) to register as false-positive for cocaine use.  These include Amoxicillin, and topical anesthetics, as well as medications for health conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes.  So you cannot assume that Anousone Phanthavong had a "coke habit".  Don't believe anything Amy Senser's attorneys spit out.  They only have to prove reasonable doubt, and this is one of their many attempts to do so.  There will be many more lame attempts, I'm sure.

CharlieQuimby
CharlieQuimby

Because, you know, if you work 10 hours a day and have an addiction, it's okay if you get run over by a drunk driver with a good lawyer.

green23
green23

 I never understood the point Senser's attorney was trying to make about cocaine. He said that it could have made the victim "behave erratically", but Senser's entire case rests on her assertion that *she never knew* she hit the guy.

Unless an unusual effect of cocaine is rendering someone invisible and ethereal, it is completely irrelevant.

It was also immediately obvious to me that your comment was sarcastic, as opposed to our resident wingnut.

Where You At?
Where You At?

Well, her "good lawyer" apparently isn't that good.  He tried to get all charges dismissed, but the Judge basically said, "sorry.....the charges stand." (as well they should be).

However, your comment is non-sense.  How many people are sitting in prison for DWI-related vehicular homicide in MN?  Many.  And I wonder how many of them worked 10 hours a day and had an addiction?  Probably many.  But with your line of thought, they are just "innocent" victims of addiction.  I'm not saying that she is innocent, nor do I believe she should go scott-free over this, but, generally speaking, when you have an accident where the driver is intoxicated (allegedly so) and the victim is high on something (proven), the results are generally not going to be positive.  If she is found guilty, and if I were the judge, I would send her to prison for one year, probation for life, and lifetime abstinence of alcohol (with random tests....and if she fails at any time, a mandatory 10 year prison sentence).

I think that would be fair.

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