- Associated Press - Friday, May 4, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Amy Senser led a comfortable life as the wife of former Minnesota Viking Joe Senser, mother of four daughters and resident of an upscale Minneapolis suburb. Now, she’s facing prison after a jury didn’t believe her story about a fatal hit-and-run accident.

“She’s prepared for that possibility, but it certainly scares her,” defense attorney Eric Nelson told reporters shortly after a jury convicted her Thursday on two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

Senser, 45, of Edina, is free pending sentencing on July 9 and plans to appeal. She was driving her husband’s Mercedes SUV the night of Aug. 23 when she struck and killed Anousone Phanthavong as he was pouring gas into his stalled car on a dark freeway exit ramp.

She testified that she didn’t realize until much later that she had hit anyone and is still struggling to accept that she killed him.

Phanthavong, 38, an immigrant from Laos, was a chef at a Thai restaurant near the accident site.

Nelson said Senser, who left the courthouse without speaking to reporters, will have a chance to apologize to the family at sentencing.

“She has struggled with her inability to talk with the family at this time. And I know that what she wants more than anything else is to express her condolences to that family,” Nelson said.

It took the seven-man, five-woman jury around 19 hours of deliberations that started Tuesday to find Senser guilty on two of the three felony counts against her, plus a misdemeanor careless driving count. Jurors ultimately rejected her claim that she thought had hit a construction barrel or pothole.

One of the jurors said Thursday evening that the case was difficult because it came down to circumstantial evidence, but that jurors had decided not to deadlock.

“It was just a very challenging case for us to come to a consensus,” Jameson “Jay” Larson told The Associated Press.

Larson said he and his fellow jurors spent most of Thursday trying to determine whether Senser knew she had hit a person before convicting her on the failing-to-stop charge. He said they went through her testimony and reviewed evidence, including phone records.

“It was very, very emotional,” Larson said.

Nelson said one key issue in Senser’s appeal will be the proper interpretation of what sort of notice a driver is supposed to give authorities after a serious accident. Nelson contends _ and prosecutors disagree _ that the Sensers complied when surrendering their damaged car the night after the accident.

Amy Senser didn’t acknowledge that she was the driver until more than a week later, and her silence fueled speculation about who was driving and whether alcohol was involved.

While Minnesota judges typically follow sentencing guidelines, they can choose to impose lighter or harsher sentences if they find extenuating or aggravating conditions. In Minnesota, convicts with good behavior generally get released after serving about two-thirds of their sentences.

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