koua fong lee freed in fatal toyota acceleration crash conviction

Remember Koua Fong Lee? He's the man who was serving an eight-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide because of a fatal 2006 crash involving his Toyota Camry, despite his claims that the vehicle had inexplicably accelerated out of control. He has been set free: Man Freed From Prison In Toyota Acceleration Case.

This week, a judge accepted Toyota's recent mass recall over unintended acceleration problems as important new evidence requiring a retrial. But with the county prosecutor indicating she wouldn't retry the case, Lee is now a free man after already serving four years of his sentence:
"I'm happy that the judge made the right decision," said Panghoua Moua, Lee's wife, speaking outside the Ramsey County courthouse. "I'm so happy, just happy that he'll be home."

Shortly after the judge's decision, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner announced that prosecutors will not pursue a new trial...

... Lee has always maintained that he tried to brake, but that his 1996 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated, ramming into the stopped cars. Millions of newer Toyotas have been recalled this year because of sudden acceleration problems. Lee's attorneys have argued that Lee's car had a similar problem, even though Camrys from that year weren't a part of the recent recalls.

Judge Joanne Smith cited several reasons for her decision to grant a new trial, including new information that was uncovered since the original trial. Smith cited the testimony of 11 drivers who reported unintended acceleration, and said that the prosecution's expert was mistaken about whether or not Lee's car had an anti-lock braking system.
This has been a crazy case, and no doubt, news of Toyota's recall gave Lee and his family new hope for exoneration. The family of the three victims had long ago become convinced of Lee's innocenece and joined the effort to free him. They are suing Toyota. More here: Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota.

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