Amy Senser sent flowers to True Thai days before her attorney filed appeal

Nearly six months after Senser was sentenced, her attorneys filed an appeal.
Nearly six months after Senser was sentenced, her attorneys filed an appeal.

Almost a year and a half later, Amy Senser still mourns the death of Anousone Phanthavong. She just doesn't think she should be in prison because of it.

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Yesterday afternoon, defense lawyers Eric Nelson and Christina Zauhar formally appealed Senser's conviction for two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. Senser is currently serving a 41-month prison term at the state women's prison in Shakopee.

By and large, the appeal contains arguments Nelson has alluded to in previous court appearances and filings. The Star Tribune summarizes the appeal's "three areas of argument" as follows:

-- There wasn't enough evidence to support the convictions, specifically any proof that Senser had actual knowledge that the accident involved bodily injury or death of an individual.

-- The trial judge made legal mistakes.

-- The trial judge committed abuses of discretion that affected the jury's decision.

As we told you about last spring, the core of Nelson's criticism of Hennepin County Judge Daniel Mabley pertains to a letter jurors sent him just before Senser's verdict was read on May 3. That note, which wasn't read in court, said, "We believe, [Senser] believed she hit a car or vehicle and not a person." But a conviction for criminal vehicular homicide is supposed to require that the defendant knew the accident involved striking a person at the time it occurred or shortly thereafter. So the jury note suggests jurors were confused about the pertinent legal standard in Senser's case.

In the appeal, Nelson and Zauhar ask for Senser's conviction to be overturned. Barring that, they want a new trial in a courtroom outside the Twin Cities with a jury that will presumably better understand the law and a judge who will make sure jurors understand it before the verdict is read.

But while Senser's legal struggle unfolds, she continues to reach out to Phanthavong's friends and family and express remorse about the former True Thai chef's death. From the Pioneer Press:

After her conviction, she had Phanthavong's first name tattooed on her left wrist. Just before Christmas, she had orchids delivered to True Thai, where they were placed at a shrine the restaurant's owners have erected to Phanthavong.

A card with the flowers reads, "In remembrance of Anousone."

Whatever you think of "Amyworld," that's a classy gesture. Unfortunately, of course, it won't bring Anousone back. But was justice for his death served when Senser was tried, convicted, and sentenced to more than three years in prison last summer? Hennepin County prosecutors now have 45 days to respond to Nelson and Zauhar, after which it'll be up to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to decide.

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