Monday, April 30, 2012

Amy Senser Trial Update: Amy to Take the Stand

After a weekend of recess from court for Amy Senser, the defendant in Minnesota's most high-profile criminal trial, Senser herself will take the stand today in her own defense.  This move, while not necessarily surprising, will probably be the "make or break" moment in this trial.

Again, Senser is faced with three felony charges stemming from an incident on the Riverside ramp off of I-94.  One is for leaving the scene, one is for failure to call for help immediately, and one is for gross negligent operation of a vehicle.  The first two crimes require the suspect to know that their accident could have reasonably resulted in severe bodily harm or death or another person, whereas the negligence charge does not.  However, for Senser to be found guilty of grossly negligent driving, the prosecution will have to show that her driving would "shock the conscience."  This will be a difficult standard to meet, seeing as there were no witnesses of the accident.  The prosecution did introduce testimony from someone who was trailing Senser on I-94 a few miles before the accident, but ultimately, Senser's testimony will have more to do with this charge than any other evidence.

Senser's testimony will be important because this entire case is based on what she did or didn't know.  If the prosecution can get her to slip up during cross-examination, it could mean a victory for Hennepin County.  Senser essentially has to take the stand in order for her defense (didn't know she hit someone) to even be entered into evidence.  There will be some interesting things to keep an eye on today:

1.  Will the prosecution grill her about her drinking the evening of the accident?
One of the big question marks in this case is whether alcohol was a factor in this deadly accident.  If the prosecution can get Senser to admit to having a few drinks on the night in question, it will turn this into a nearly impossible conviction into essentially a slam dunk.  Don't expect this to be the case, however.  Defense attorney Eric Nelson wouldn't be putting Senser on the stand if she was going to admit to consuming alcohol that night.  She will deny drinking, but how convincing will she be?

2.  How will Amy Senser do when questioned about "getting lost?"
For a person living in Edina who is supposed to be on their way to downtown St. Paul, going west on I-94 in downtown Minneapolis wouldn't be the most efficient path.  Senser explains her unusual route by claiming that she was lost on her way to the Xcel Center and was trying to find her way back onto eastbound I-94.  Senser has lived in the metro for years, so getting lost on the Twin Cities' main drag is a bit surprising.  Her husband, former Viking tight end Joe Senser, already testified that such an event was not out of character for her, but it was hard to tell if he was referring to her actually getting lost or her claiming that she'd gotten lost.  How Senser holds up when pressured on the timeline of that evening will go a long ways towards determining the outcome of this case.

3.  Will Senser be "believable" with her testimony?
So much attention gets put on what people say as opposed to how they say it.  The true test of any witness is whether they can get the jury to buy into their story.  Senser's biggest challenge will be to keep her story consistent, stay even-keeled, and to avoid embellishing on the questions asked of her.  The worst thing a defendant on the stand can do is answer more than the questions asked.  This is probably the biggest benefit to hiring a Minnesota criminal defense attorney when facing criminal charges of this nature.  A good lawyer will prepare you for what you can expect while you're on the stand and can get you ready to be successful when the questions get intense.

Monday is sure to be an exciting day in the Amy Senser criminal vehicular homicide trial.  We should know a lot more about her chances of earning an acquittal after she steps down either today or tomorrow.  If you've got any questions regarding the case, you can leave them in the comments section or you can shoot me a line via email.  I can't promise I'll be able to respond to every email or comment, but I'll surely do my best.

If you or a love one are dealing with criminal charges or are the subject of a criminal investigation, don't wait too long to speak with a Minnesota criminal defense attorney.  Minnesota criminal defense attorneys can help you get your defense on the right track from the start so you have the best chance to be successful.

As always, all material on Minnesota Criminal Defense Blog is intended to be for entertainment purposes, only.  It is not intended to be construed as legal advice or legal advertising, nor does viewing this website create an attorney/client relationship between the author and the reader.  If you are seeking legal advice, contact a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction to get the specialized legal service you require.

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