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Minnesota Judge Frees Man Convicted in Deadly Toyota Crash

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Toyota, Toyota Camry

Minnesota Judge Frees Man Convicted in Deadly Toyota Crash

VOA News
August 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm

A judge in St. Paul, Minnesota, has freed a man jailed in 2007 for accidentally crashing his Toyota into another car, killing three people.

The judge Thursday ordered a new trial for Koua Fong Lee.

Lee, a Hmong immigrant, jumped up and down and hugged his wife when a Minnesota county attorney said she would not try the case again, meaning Lee is now a free man.

The judge ruled that new evidence surfaced since his trial, including the testimony of other Toyota owners who said their cars had acceleration problems.

Lee was serving eight years in prison for vehicular manslaughter when his Toyota Camry plowed into another car stopped on a highway exit ramp. The crash killed three people, including a 10-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl.

Lee always maintained that he tried to brake, but that his car would not stop.

The judge also ruled that Lee’s defense attorney did a poor job and failed to introduce a letter from an expert who said Lee did try to stop his car.

Toyota recalled millions of cars last last year and earlier this year because of faulty acceleration pedals that made the cars nearly impossible to stop. Lee’s car was not part of the recall.

Large numbers of Hmong were permitted to immigrate to the United States after fighting alongside U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. Many of them settled in Minnesota, which has one of the largest Hmong expatriate communities in the United States. Some information in this story was provided by AP.

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