Amy Senser case sent to jury - KMSP-TV

Amy Senser case sent to jury

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After a week of arguments, Amy Senser's fate is now in the hands of a jury.

The state wrapped up its closing arguments against Amy Senser shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday, telling the jurors "actions speak louder than words."

Senser testified in her own defense a day before, saying she didn't know she hit a person, but her behavior says otherwise, prosecutor Deborah Russell argued.

"She said she went by that scene where she had known she had hit something within a half hour and made no connection," Russell said, adding Senser's mindset is unbelievable.

Russell said the damage to Senser's Mercedes SUV is significant, including parts left by the body of Anousone Phanthavong on the Riverside Avenue ramp. The sound of the crash would have also been significant, so she says Senser had to suspect something.

"The defendant wants you to think she is this poor person who got lost and discombobulated and didn't know she hit a person," Russell argued.

On top of that, she deleted text messages, got rid of her clothes and changed her hair color.

"This is not 'Amy World,'" Russell said. "This is the real world, and I ask you to find the defendant guilty."

In closing arguments, Amy Senser's defense attorney took almost an hour to argue about a few seconds of real time. Erik Nelson told the jury they've spent the better part of seven days "trying to make sense of a few seconds – actually, a few milliseconds."

And he stressed to the jury what he's said all along: there is no direct, physical evidence to prove Senser knew she hit a person.

Charge 1: Failing to stop

Nelson argued the best evidence that Amy Senser is telling the truth is her testimony that she did not see Anousone Phanthavong. There was no evidence of evasion, no tire marks to show she hit the brakes or swerved in any way.

He also argued that she did not try to hide the vehicle.

"When Ms. Senser arrived home, did she take steps to conceal the vehicle? No.," he said. "She left it in the driveway for the world to see."

Charge 2: Failing to notify

As for notice, he argues that turning the vehicle over to the State Patrol the next day fits the legal requirements. He added that there is no specific language in the law that requires a driver to identify him or herself.

Charge 3: Gross negligence

"The evidence is very clear," Nelson told the jury. "Ms. Senser was driving at or below the speed limit. Ms. Senser was in her lane of traffic. She was not on the phone."

He concluded by arguing "the state has rushed to judgment" by charging her before the reconstruction and investigation was complete.

He argues the actions of the state speak loudly.

"'Ms. Senser is a public figure, her husband is a public figure, and we need to make an example out of them,'" Nelson said while characterizing the state's position.

"The evidence is clear," he continued. "Ms. Senser is not guilty of any charge and I ask you to acquit."

Prosecution rebuttal

The defense argues Senser's own actions -- going home and going to sleep on the front porch -- are not the actions of someone who knew she just killed someone.

In strong, loud words to the jury, Deborah Russell made a bold argument against that.

Jurors ask question mid-deliberation

After deliberations began, the jurors brought one legal question before the judge at about 5 p.m. They were wondering at what point Senser would need to know she hit someone for it to count as leaving the scene.

According to the judge, you either have to stop or immediately return.

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