Senser’s attorney seeks probation

Published 7:48 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An attorney for Amy Senser, the wife of former Minnesota Viking Joe Senser, said his client is “deep remorseful” for a hit-and-run accident that killed a man last year and that he will seek probation at her sentencing next week.

Attorney Eric Nelson requested leniency for Senser, saying in court documents: “She struggles every day with the fact that she is responsible, albeit accidentally, for the taking of a human life.”

Senser faces a maximum of four years in prison when sentenced Monday on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide for the August crash that killed Anousone Phanthavong, 38.

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Hennepin County prosecutors are expected to file their response to Nelson’s request Thursday.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday that Nelson wrote that Senser is sorry, has strong ties to the community and has no criminal history.

Senser, 45, was convicted in May on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — one for leaving the scene, and one for failing to notify police as soon as possible. She was also convicted of careless driving, a misdemeanor.

She was driving her husband’s Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle last August when she hit Phanthavong as he stood next to his car on an Interstate 94 exit ramp. Phanthavong had run out of gas, and it appeared he was about to fill his tank when he was hit.

He died at the scene, but Senser kept driving. At the trial, she testified she thought she hit a pothole or construction barrier, not a person or vehicle.

In his court filing, Nelson wrote the presumptive sentence for Senser is 41 to 57 months. Prosecutors have not yet said what they would seek. Nelson asked the judge to reject any request to “aggregate” the convictions for sentencing purposes.

A judge considers a defendant’s criminal history to calculate a sentence. If Hennepin County District Judge Daniel Mabley aggregates the convictions, he would sentence her on one count, and then use that conviction when calculating her sentence on the second count.

The result would add to the time she would serve.

Nelson argues there should be no aggregation because both convictions stem from a single incident.