Evidence

Could Toyota Troubles Lead to Redemption for Jailed Minn. Man?


New revelations of safety problems with Toyota automobiles have breathed new life into claims by a Minnesota man who was sentenced to eight years in prison when his 1996 Toyota Camry shot up an interstate ramp and plowed into another vehicle, killing three people.

Koua Fong Lee has long insisted that he did what he could to stop the car. Jurors hearing the case in 2007 didn’t buy the claim, but the “Toyota defense” may be more believable, the Associated Press reports.

Relatives of Lee’s victims and the case’s prosecutor all now believe the case merits another look. If Lee’s car was defective, “we don’t want an innocent man sitting in prison,” said Phil Carruthers, the Ramsey County prosecutor who handled Lee’s case.

“I know 100 percent in my heart that I took my foot off the gas and that I was stepping on the brakes as hard as possible,” Lee told the AP during an interview this week from prison. “When the brakes were looked at and we were told that nothing was wrong with the brakes, I was shocked.”

Lee’s crash is among a number of cases that the AP says are getting renewed attention since Toyota admitted problems with sudden acceleration.

Brent Schafer, who is representing Lee, plans to file a motion to have Lee’s 1996 Camry, which wasn’t a part of the recall, re-examined.

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