Toyota Recalls May Free Jailed Camry Owner

Immigrant convicted in fatal crash, despite claim that brakes failed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2010 12:12 PM CST

Toyota’s big recalls could vindicate and free a Minnesota man currently behind bars for vehicular manslaughter. Koua Fong Lee, a Hmong refugee from Laos, has always claimed that it was a brake failure that caused him to crash his Camry into another car on an off-ramp in 2006, killing the other driver. But a jury didn’t believe him, and he was sentenced to eight years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

When the media storm around Toyota erupted this year, Lee’s lawyers checked and discovered that his car, a 1996 Camry, had been the subject of a similar recall for “unintended acceleration” 10 years earlier, a fact that was never presented in the trial. Now the victims' family wants the case reopened, and the county prosecutor says she’d welcome an inspection of the car to see if a mechanical failure may have occurred. (More Toyota recall stories.)

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