MINNEAPOLIS — The wife of a former Minnesota Viking tearfully told jurors Monday at her fatal hit-and-run trial that she thought she hit a construction barrel or a pothole, not a person, the night of the accident.
Amy Senser, the wife of former Vikings tight end Joe Senser, testified she felt an impact after she exited a freeway in her Mercedes SUV on Aug. 23 in Minneapolis.
“I remember being jolted by the front,” Senser testified. “Not exactly sure what had happened. I assumed I had hit something.”
Senser is charged with three felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Anousone Phanthavong. Each count carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison, but Minnesota law requires the prosecution to convince the jury that she knew she had hit a person before she drove off.
Phanthavong, a 38-year-old restaurant cook, had run out of gas and pulled his car to the side of the exit ramp. He was filling the car’s tank with gas when he was hit at about 11 p.m.
Senser wept as she testified that she was still certain when she read a news report on his death the next morning that she wasn’t the driver who hit him. Her voice choked up as she said she’s still struggling to accept the fact that she did.
“I don’t know how you wouldn’t know you had hit somebody,” she said.
Although Senser’s attorney had given her account of the incident during months of legal sparring leading up to trial, Monday marked the first time Senser herself has spoken publicly about the case, which grabbed headlines in part because of her husband’s celebrity. Joe Senser played four years with the Vikings before a knee injury ended his career.