Amy Senser sentenced to 41 months in prison for hit-and-run - KMSP-TV

Amy Senser sentenced to 41 months in prison for hit-and-run

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  • Amy Senser sentenced to 41 months in prisonMore>>

  • Inside the women's prison in Shakopee

    Inside the women's prison in Shakopee

    Monday, July 9 2012 10:19 PM EDT2012-07-10 02:19:46 GMT
    After sentencing, it's now clear that Amy Senser will spend at least two years in prison -- but what will her time be like at the correctional facility in Shakopee?
    After sentencing, it's now clear that Amy Senser will spend at least two years in prison -- but what will her time be like at the correctional facility in Shakopee? FOX 9's Erik Runge sat down with the warden to find out.
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Amy Senser was sentenced Monday morning to 41 months in prison for the August 2011 hit-and-run death of Anousone Phanthavong.

Senser, who is now officially incarcerated, must serve two thirds of that time before she can be released for good behavior. She must also pay a $6,000 fine.

The sentence is toward the bottom of the state guidelines, but Judge Daniel Mabley said "to deter people, I think a prison sentence is justified."

Senser gave the Phanthavong family a tearful apology before Monday's sentencing, telling them she's "so very sorry" for the accident that caused his death. She also spent several minutes embracing Phanthavong's family members before leaving the courtroom. 

Amy's husband, former Minnesota Vikings tight end Joe Senser, was not in the courtroom at sentencing.

Before sentencing, Amy Senser had Anousone Phanthavong's name tattooed on her wrist. Defense attorney Eric Nelson said she did it because she feels responsible for his soul.

There was never been any dispute Senser was involved in Phanthavong's death on the Interstate 94 off-ramp at Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis, but Senser has insisted all along that she thought she hit a pothole or a construction barrel.

The jury didn't believe her and convicted her on three counts of criminal vehicular homicide -- all felonies. At sentencing, Mabley told Senser he does believe her remorse, but said he too did not believe she didn't see Phanthavong on the ramp.

Mabley continued saying that avoiding responsibility after the crash was "planned and coordinated," which contributed to her convictions.

After sentencing, the Phanthavong family told FOX 9 News that, for the first time, they believe Senser's apology was sincere, adding they can and will forgive her in time.

Despite apologies from Senser, however, the Phanthavong family wanted the maximum sentence of 57 months.

"It's a crime that any other person would have gotten charged and paid for," said Kono Phanthavong, the victim's brother. "It's not an example -- she tried to get away with killing a person."

In 2010, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled a driver could not be held responsible for leaving the scene of a fatal accident if they didn't think they actually hit somebody. In Senser's case, she says the thud she heard was either a pothole or some type of construction barrel, testifying in court that she "never saw him."

After her conviction, Senser's attorney said she's "deeply remorseful" but then asked for an acquittal, a new trial or a hearing to question the jury; however, Kono Phanthavong said he can't understand how you can be both sorry and innocent.

"We've gotten like written apologies and stuff like that, but we don't want to hear it because every time she appeals it makes me feel like she's denying everything still," Phanthavong said.

Prosecutors asked for a lengthy prison stay while Nelson pushed for probation, noting Amy Senser has no criminal history but acknowledges the desire by some to make an example out of her.

"There is more of a desire, or a public desire, to see her punished heavily," Nelson said. "But I don't know that the state is doing anything differently than it would do in any other case."

  • Did Amy Senser get a fair sentence?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, 41 months is fair
    36%
    563 votes
    No, her clean criminal record should have earned her probation
    12%
    181 votes
    No, she should have been given the full 5 years
    52%
    805 votes
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