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Convicted Man Goes Free With Claim Regarding Toyota's Unintended Acceleration

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On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 2:18PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Convicted Man Goes Free With Claim Regarding Toyota's Unintended Acceleration

It seems that Toyota’s high profile unintended acceleration problems have given a Minnesota man a new chance at freedom. In St. Paul, Minnesota, a man convicted of vehicular homicide in 2006 and sentenced to 8 years incarceration, was recently released after claiming that his Toyota Camry was one of the automobiles involved in Toyota’s unintended acceleration recalls.

Koua Fong Lee was involved in a tragic automobile accident four years ago in his 1996 Toyota Camry when it crashed into an Oldsmobile Ciera in a rear end collision, killing the driver and two young children in the Oldsmobile. In his court hearing, Lee insisted that he was stepping on the brakes of the Camry, but the car would not stop or slow down. Lee’s attorney explained to jurors in his closing argument at the trial that Lee must have accidentally stepped on the accelerator, rather than the brake. 

In the recent appeal case that involved submitting evidence to the court regarding the unintended acceleration of Lee’s Camry, the judge ruled that in the original trial, Lee’s attorney erred by not presenting the evidence correctly, that Lee had been stepping on the brake and NOT the accelerator, and failing to present vital evidence pertaining to defects related to unintended acceleration.
Ramsey County District Judge Joanne Smith vacated charges against Lee due to the ongoing unintended acceleration dispute that continues to affect Toyota Motor Co. Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County attourney, stated that she would not appeal the ruling. "I respect the judge, and I respect her ruling, and I believe it is time to bring this very tragic situation to a close," Gaertner said in a written statement.

Since last year, Toyota has recalled a total of 9.2 million vehicles in the United States related to either sticky acceleration pedals, or problems with floor mats interfering with braking. Toyota was charged the biggest fine in history, $16.4 million as a result of delayed notification to consumers regarding the defects. The Japanese automaker continues to be involved in other law suits related “sticky gas pedals” that allegedly caused accidents across the country.

The grandmother of the deceased children, Carolyn Trice, stated in an interview that she was in favor of Lee going free. The family of the victims are now filing suit against Toyota.

Even though Lee was released from prison, the manslaughter charges will stay on his record and he is court ordered to continue on probation for 15 years. Lee has also had his driver’s license revoked for 10 years.


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