Charges in the Senser case

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Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, is holding a news conference this afternoon at 1:30, to discuss charges filed in the case of Amy Senser, who has acknowledged driving the SUV that struck and killed Anousone Phanthavong in August.

update 11:39 a.m. Star Tribune reports Senser will be charged with criminal vehicular operation.

I’m outside the Hennepin County Government Center where County Attorney Mike Freeman is holding a news conference (1:30 p.m.) and the charges will be detailed. Feel free to comment and ask questions.

There’s been an ongoing discussion about why it’s taken so long for charges to be filed and the role of “high-priced lawyers” in the case going on here (I’ll turn the comments off on that post at 1:30 and things will move over to this page).

TIMETABLE OF THE CASE

Here’s the timetable of the events leading up to today’s charges:

Tues. August 23 – Anousone Phanthavong, 38, of Roseville, is run over while filling his car with gasoline on the ramp from westbound Interstate 94 to Riverside Avenue.

Wes Aug 24 – Attorney for Senser family contacts State Patrol and turns over car (SUV) involved. Does not indicate who was driving.

Thurs. Sep 1 – Fox 9 breaks story that vehicle belonged to Joe Senser.

Friday Sept 2 – Amy Senser is identified as the driver of the vehicle in a statement released by the family lawyer.

Tues. Sept 5 – Family files civil suit against Senser.

Wed. Sept 14 - Medical examiner lists official cause of death.

Thurs. Sept 15 – Mrs. Senser is charged with criminal vehicular homicide.

WHAT IS VEHICULAR HOMCIDE?

Here is the Minnesota statute:

.Criminal vehicular homicide or operation; crime described.

A person is guilty of criminal vehicular homicide or operation and may be sentenced as provided in subdivision 1a, if the person causes injury to or the death of another as a result of operating a motor vehicle:

(1) in a grossly negligent manner;

(2) in a negligent manner while under the influence of:

(i) alcohol;

(ii) a controlled substance; or

(iii) any combination of those elements;

(3) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more;

(4) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, as measured within two hours of the time of driving;

(5) in a negligent manner while knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance;

(6) in a negligent manner while any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols, is present in the person’s body;

(7) where the driver who causes the accident leaves the scene of the accident in violation of section 169.09, subdivision 1 or 6; or

(8) where the driver had actual knowledge that a peace officer had previously issued a citation or warning that the motor vehicle was defectively maintained, the driver had actual knowledge that remedial action was not taken, the driver had reason to know that the defect created a present danger to others, and the injury or death was caused by the defective maintenance.

Subd. 1a.Criminal penalties.

(a) A person who violates subdivision 1 and causes the death of a human being not constituting murder or manslaughter or the death of an unborn child may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

(b) A person who violates subdivision 1 and causes great bodily harm to another not constituting attempted murder or assault or great bodily harm to an unborn child who is subsequently born alive may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

(c) A person who violates subdivision 1 and causes substantial bodily harm to another may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

(d) A person who violates subdivision 1 and causes bodily harm to another may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.

Subd. 1b.Conviction not bar to punishment for other crimes.

A prosecution for or a conviction of a crime under this section relating to causing death or injury to an unborn child is not a bar to conviction of or punishment for any other crime committed by the defendant as part of the same conduct.

Subd. 2.

[Repealed, 2007 c 54 art 3 s 15]

Subd. 4a.Affirmative defense.

It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge under subdivision 1, clause (6), that the defendant used the controlled substance according to the terms of a prescription issued for the defendant in accordance with sections 152.11 and 152.12.

Subd. 5.Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the terms defined in this subdivision have the meanings given them.

(a) “Motor vehicle” has the meaning given in section 609.52, subdivision 1, and includes attached trailers.

(b) “Controlled substance” has the meaning given in section 152.01, subdivision 4.

(c) “Hazardous substance” means any chemical or chemical compound that is listed as a hazardous substance in rules adopted under chapter 182.