Juror: Senser verdict on circumstantial evidence

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A juror in a fatal hit-and-run trial involving the wife of a former Minnesota Viking says the case was challenging because it came down to circumstantial evidence.

Jameson “Jay” Larson tells The Associated Press that the jury spent much of Thursday’s deliberations trying to determine whether Amy Senser knew she had hit a person.

Senser said she thought she’d hit a construction cone or pothole. But jurors eventually convicted the wife of former Viking Joe Senser of two felonies.

Larson says jurors went through her testimony and the evidence such as phone records before convicting her in the death of a man on a freeway exit ramp last August.

Larson also says jurors decided they would not deadlock.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The wife of former Minnesota Viking Joe Senser was convicted Thursday of two felonies in a hit-and-run accident that killed a man, with jurors brushing aside her defense that she never saw him and thought she had hit a construction barrel or pothole.

Amy Senser was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to promptly report an accident, both criminal vehicular homicide charges, in the August death of Anousone Phanthavong. She was acquitted of a third felony charge of gross negligence. She was also convicted of misdemeanor careless driving.

Senser, 45, of Edina, showed little emotion as the verdicts were read, staring straight ahead. It was jurors who looked tense at the conclusion of the highly publicized trial, with one crying and dabbing at tears with a handkerchief. Later, after the judge dismissed the jury, Joe Senser stood behind his wife and rubbed her shoulders, trying to comfort her as she sniffled and wiped away tears.

Senser was to remain free until sentencing July 9. Each felony count was punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines suggested four years. The misdemeanor carried a potential sentence of up to 90 days in jail.

Her lead attorney, Eric Nelson, vowed an appeal. He said Senser was in shock.

“She has insisted that she didn’t see him. She wants the world to believe that’s the truth.” Senser, he said, “is not the type of person who would knowingly leave a man on the road to die.”

But Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the convictions were warranted.

“I think if you’re driving a car and you have an accident, the state Legislature and all the rest of us believe you have a duty to stop. That clearly is something that Mrs. Senser did not do,” Freeman said. “And you have a duty to report that accident.”

A niece of Phanthavong‘s, Souksavanh Phanthavong, thanked the jury. She called her uncle “a good person. There could’ve been a lot to him.”

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