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The Amy Senser trial and making a case for the real victim: Anousone Phanthavong

Anousone Phanthavong

The saying goes, ‘there’s two legal systems in America: one for the rich and one for the poor’. Is it true in the case of Amy Senser and Anousone Phanthavong? It’s a classic case right out of a movie: the wealthy White trophy wife is pitted against a low-income immigrant who became her fatal victim on a tragic night of two very different worlds colliding. If the roles were reversed, would we be dealing with a completely different outcome by now?

It’s not news that the Amy Senser case has been under the microscope of simple negligence, poor judgment, and public crucifixion. At the unfortunate mercy of the media’s own trial on sensationalizing a local icon, they’ve managed to lose focus and momentum for the real victim: the Lao man who lost his life, 38 year-old Anousone Phanthavong.

The incident: Amy Senser, the wife of former Minnesota Vikings Joe Senser, is charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide in the Aug. 23, 2011 death of Anousone Phanthavong, whom she struck and killed as he filled his car with gas on the Interstate 94 ramp at Riverside Avenue just east of downtown Minneapolis.

(left to right) Attorney Eric Nelson, Amy Senser, Joe Senser

The evidence: Amy Senser claims she did not know she hit a person but rather construction equipment and had left the scene. Senser told witnesses that she was drinking on the day of the incident. Senser was on a phone call while she hit Phanthavong. During the incident, Senser’s vehicle dragged Phanthavong about 40 feet from where he was standing. There was blood and significant damages of up to $7,500 on the hood of Senser’s vehicle. After the incident, calls were made to a medical director of a detox center and then to Amy Senser’s brother who is a policeman on recommendations for attorneys. The Sensers waited about 10 days after the incident, before reporting to police that their vehicle was at the scene. Senser refused to speak to investigators and family members, pleading the Fifth Amendment right from self-incrimination.

The trial: Amy Senser is on trial for three counts of felony criminal vehicular homicide. Senser pleads ‘not guilty’ to all counts.  Senser’s attorney filed a request for a trial outside of Hennepin County due to ‘media attention’ but was denied. The criminal trial begins Monday, April 23, 2012 in a Hennepin County Court under Judge Daniel Mabley.

As both families look forward to the upcoming criminal trial (and their own civil case), the local community especially the Lao have to be aware of what this case means for a community that has seen more than its fair share of daily injustices, racial discrimination, and disenfranchisement from basic resources and opportunities. This trial is the perfect example of much needed advocacy for our social justice issues. We have to move beyond a culture of ‘letting things work itself out’. It’s a matter of whether or not we choose to let another injustice go by unless our own community rises up to challenge these systems and institutions that puts us at a disadvantage. Maybe then we’ll be able to surface some of the root causes that have historically entrenched us in these two separate legal systems.

Anousone Phanthavong is not just a victim. He represents the face of immigrant families and is a symbolism for the future of justice for the Lao community. As the trial moves forward, let’s hope more advocates, other than his family members and former employer, will stand up to organize and call for a legal system that no longer favors the wealthy and powerful, but is fair, adequate, and equal for EVERYONE.

Do you think there will be justice for Anousone and his family? Watch with us as the trial unfolds next week.

LATEST NEWS UPDATES:

Judge Daniel Mabley’s rulings and motions before Amy Senser’s trial begins next week:

http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/147998835.html

Amy Senser pleads ‘not guilty’ to third felony charge:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/04/16/amy-senser-plead-not-guilty/

-Chanida Phaengdara Potter

chanida.potter@gmail.com

12 Comments

    • Anonymous says

      May God Bless U & Ur’s families ner A P … May U R.I.P!!!!! Hell yea just B Positive of the Trial we will taken this BITCH DOWN TO HELL!!!!! eeeeeeeeeeeHA kaow ne munn NEVER GET AWAY WITH THIS LIFE & DEATH …….. JUSTICE WILL B SERVE ……

      Like

  1. Khamla says

    I think this bitch need to do some major time, if she gets away with this then that’s a prime example that money talks and show how the United States really is……unhumanity..

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  2. Anonymous says

    I will be ashamed to be called an Lao/Amercian if justice does not prevail…

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  3. she should admit to what she did. her husband has already lost 2 restaurants because of this.i am 3/4 german and i think this is wrong

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  4. may says

    Most of the case has always been money is the power. Its sad to say but true. I hope justice for Phanthavong’s family and my prayer are with you on trial’s day. But no matter what the outcome will be, I will never be ashamed of who I am and where I came from. I am Lao/American and proud to be one..Lets just all pray for justice.

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  5. Claudia Rivera Philthilath says

    I hope this family gets justice for what happened. Not only that, but they should get money for their pains and sufferings too! She needs to pay for what she did. And if that means rot in jail then let it be!

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  6. During Joe Senser’s testimony he stated that “Margaret” had a very independent nature and that doing something other than picking up her daughters in St. Paul as originally planned is not surprising. As a member of the jury, I would have a difficult time discerning between independence and SELFISHNESS as being the trait most commonly attributed to “Margaret”. That very same selfishness may have enabled her to hit the accelerator rather than the brakes after having struck and killed Anousone Phanthavong.

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  7. Pingback: Trayvon and Anousone, beyond an (un)reasonable (in)justice | Little Laos on the Prairie

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