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Freedom for Man Convicted in Fatal Toyota Crash

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By Jason Beahm on August 06, 2010 2:07 PM

In 2006 a Toyota Camry smashed into a vehicle on a Minnesota highway, killing three people. The driver was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison. For more than two years everyone thought the case was over. Except for the driver, Koua Fong Lee, who continued to maintain his innocence.

In a wild legal twist worthy of a Law and Order episode, Lee has been set free after two and a half years in prison. Koua Fong Lee was convicted in 2006 after his 1996 Toyota Camry slammed into an Oldsmobile. His Camry was traveling at between 70 and 90 mph up an exit ramp of the highway when it collided with the Oldsmobile, killing the driver, Javis Adams, and his 10 year-old son. His seven-year old niece was paralyzed and died a year later, the AP reports.

From the moment of the Toyota crash, Lee was emphatic that he braked and maintained his innocence. His new attorney pulled a move reminiscent of another TV drama, CSI, using an expert to test the brake filaments in Lee's car. They had exploded during the crash, indicating that the brake lights were on, even though the car was accelerating at the time of the crash, AOL News reports. The defense also called several witnesses who testified they had sudden-acceleration experiences in Toyotas similar to Lee's.

In light of the evidence and the recent recalls of Toyota vehicles, including the model driven by Lee, District Judge Joanne Smith ordered a new trial. Prosecutors stated that they will not pursue one. So Lee is now a free man. He had another five and a half years remaining on his sentence.

No word on whether any other cases are being reexamined in light of the verdict, but it's very likely that we will hear of this strategy being used again.

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