Two years into serving his eight-year sentence for the 2006 motor vehicle
deaths of three people, 32-year-old Koua Fong Lee is now a free man. Lee
was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in 2007 because his 1996 Toyota
Camry had accelerated suddenly and uncontrollably, causing the fatal crash.
While Lee has always maintained that he was stepping on the brakes at the time, prosecutors had argued that because his foot was actually on the accelerator his vehicle reached speeds of up to 90 mph when he hit the other cars. Lee’s pregnant wife, daughter, niece, brother, and dad were in the car with him at the time. Killed in the Minnesota car crash were father and son, Javis Adams, 33, and Javis Adams, Jr., 10, as well as Devyn Bolton, 6, who at first survived the collision as a paraplegic before later dying from her car crash injuries.
Although the 1996 Toyota Camry isn’t one of the millions of vehicles that Toyota has recalled in the last year because of sudden unintended acceleration problems, Lee’s attorneys, who were pushing for another criminal trial, presented affidavits and testimony from 10 1996 Camry owners who said that they too had experienced Toyota sudden acceleration difficulties while driving their vehicles.
The judge called for a new trial due to evidence of mechanical failure and the possibility that Lee’s original lawyer failed to provide him with an adequate defense during the criminal trial. Prosecutors then decided to drop the criminal charges against Lee, which is why he was finally set free last Thursday.
Meantime, the victims’ families, who had been pressing for Lee’s release from prison, are now suing Toyota for automotive products liability over their loved ones’ wrongful deaths.
Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota, CNN, August 6, 2010
Recalls cast new light on Toyota crash case, The Washington Post, August 5, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Toyota Recall Update
Unintended acceleration guide, Consumer Reports