Amy Senser is still walking around a free woman three weeks after the hit-and-run accident that killed Anousone Phanthavong, despite Senser's having confessed to the crime through her attorney.
As investigators assemble a case against Senser, wife of restaurant owner and former Vikings star Joe Senser, the case has been left to be tried in the court of public opinion. Last week, Star Tribune columnist Gail Rosenblum wrote a piece defending a slow, deliberate investigation into the accident.
In response, Anna Prasomphol, owner of the True Thai restaurant where Phanthavong was the head chef, wrote an Op-Ed of her own and submitted it to the Star Tribune. The Strib never responded, so instead Prasomphol self-published the piece. In the column, Prasomphol mourns Phanthavong's death -- and attacks local media figures for demanding that Amy Senser be given the benefit of the doubt.
Rosenblum's column first quotes from Minnesota State Patrol spokesman Eric Roeske, who's spent much of the last few weeks explaining, and reexplaining, that proper investigations take time. Even Jim Schwebel, the attorney who filed suit in the Phanthavongs' wrongful death lawsuit against the Sensers, acknowledged a thorough investigation is best.
After laying out this reality, Rosenblum chose to switch directions at the last minute, pleading for a bit of sympathy for Senser, who's come under so much criticism:
And while no one is suffering more profoundly than Phanthavong's family, there is grief aplenty for Amy Senser, whose privileged life got her one thing for sure: Her photo plastered across news sites from coast to coast.For her part, Prasomphol is sick of local media taking the point of view of the Sensers, and not the Phanthavongs. She writes that coverage has been from that perspective since the Sensers admitted it was Joe Senser's Mercedes SUV, driven by Amy, that killed Phanthavong.
She gets to live, yes. But her life likely will never be the same.
Yes, [Rosenblum] mentioned Ped, but like all the other local media she just repeated what I had written about him in my blog. Until they held a press conference two weeks after Ped's death, not one Minnesota news person bothered to interview Ped's family.Also coming up for criticism are WCCO's Esme Murphy -- technically a colleague of Joe Senser's, though Joe announces college football games and Murphy anchors a weekend morning show.
"[Murphy] said that she could not defend a hit and run," Prasmophol wrote, "but then spent the rest of her post defending the Sensers' right to a fair trial."
The last local media figure Prasmophol takes on is MPR blogger Bob Collins, whom she says has taken to jumping into the comments section of his blog to argue with anyone who defends Phanthavong.
Just as Rosenblum's column took a twist at its end, so does Prasmophol's -- only in this case, it is a bitter turn. Prasomophol writes that she's too angry to leave all the talking to the lawyers.
I will keep talking about this because I miss my friend Ped, and I am angry that the woman who admitted to driving the Mercedes SUV that dragged him forty feet up an off-ramp still has her drivers license, and is still free to go about living her life. The media can feel sorry for her all they like, but some day the Phanthavongs will have their day in court and I will be there every day to see that they receive the justice they deserve.