Amy Senser's convictions upheld; she'll be sentenced July 9, then appeal

Categories: Law
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Senser and defense attorney Eric Nelson leave the courthouse after Judge Mabley refused to throw out her felony convictions.
Amy Senser's last chance to avoid prison time slipped away yesterday when Hennepin County Judge Daniel Mabley denied her motion for acquittal or a new trial.

Two weeks ago, Eric Nelson, Senser's defense attorney, filed a motion making a case that jurors were confused about their instructions, and rendered their guilty verdict based on an incorrect understanding of criminal vehicular homicide law. At the heart of Nelson's case was a note jurors sent to Judge Mabley just before the verdict was read on May 3. It said, "We believe, [Senser] believed she hit a car or vehicle and not a person," and jurors asked Mabley to read the note in court -- a request he declined to fulfill.

In his motion, Nelson argued that hitting a vehicle "is simply not the offense [Senser] was charged with" and asked that the conviction be thrown out. But in denying Nelson's request, Judge Mabley characterized the note as "a complete non-issue."

During yesterday's hearing, Nelson had some pointed language for Judge Mabley, saying "the difficulty I have in speaking to Your Honor is, Judge, I think you made a mistake... I think you kind of blew it" in refusing to read the note in court.

But Mabley, in his rejection of Nelson's motion, wrote that the note "did not contain a substantive question, but rather a request for the judge to explain the underlying reasons for the verdict."

Mabley characterized the note as simply providing insight into the jury's thinking, and noted that deliberations are strictly confidential.
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Joe Senser, shown here getting upset with photogs during his wife's trial, was also visibly angered by yesterday's ruling.

"Thus, a note which discloses the jury's reasoning or thought process should not be considered," he wrote. "Further, the information in the note did not impeach the verdict. In fact, it demonstrated that the jury properly applied the law in reaching its verdicts."

The Pioneer Press notes that Mabley's ruling didn't sit well with Senser's husband, former Viking and restauranteur Joe Senser. He was visibly angry after the hearing and could be overheard uttering the word "liar" to nobody in particular as he stormed out of the courtroom.

The upshot of all this is that Amy Senser will face the music during her July 9 sentencing. Her felony convictions for failure to stop and failure to notify authorities call for a prison sentence of four years under state guidelines.

Nelson will still have the opportunity to appeal Senser's convictions -- he's already vowed to do so -- but it'll have to wait until after she's sentenced next month.

Previous coverage of the Amy Senser trial:
-- Amy Senser jury may have been confused; defense wants convictions overturned
-- Amy Senser found guilty of two felonies, not guilty of gross negligence
-- Joe Senser loses cool, tells photographers to "get a life"
-- Joe Senser on "Amyworld": Flaking out on picking up kids reflects her 'fierce independence'

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