Amy Senser, the wife of former Minnesota Vikings tight end Joe Senser, was sentenced to 41 months in prison Monday in a Hennepin County courtroom for the hit-and-run death of chef Anousone Phanthavong.
Senser, 45, expressed remorse for killing 38-year-old Phanthavong, a Rosedale, Minn., man who was a popular chef at True Thai in Minneapolis, before the sentencing, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Senser maintained that she never saw Phanthavong when he was hit by the car she was driving as he gassed his car Aug. 23 on Riverside Avenue near I-94 in Minneapolis. The vehicle driven by Senser was registered to her husband, ex-Vikings tight end Joe Senser, which initially led some to suspect he was involved in the accident; however, Joe Senser was not driving the vehicle at the time of Phanthavong was killed.
This isn't about me. I hope you can believe me that I never saw your son that night, Senser told Phanthavong's family, the Star-Tribune reported. And if I had I would have stopped to help him. I take full responsibility for his death.
Senser said she got a tattoo of Anousone Phanthavong's name on her wrist because she felt responsible for his soul.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Dan Mabley sentenced her to 41 months in prison.
This avoidance of responsibility was not out of panic or confusion. It was orchestrated, Mabley told the courtroom, according to ESPN.com. A certain momentum develops around these denials.
In sentencing Senser, Mabley said she was not very forthcoming about the details of the incident and did not believe her version of events.
I don't entirely trust her account, the judge said. I trust her remorse though.
Senser's expression of remorse factored into Mabley's decision to sentence her to 41 months in prison, the shortest amount he could have given her under sentencing guidelines, according to KSTP.
Senser was convicted in May of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to promptly report an accident.
Senser's attorney cited her remorse in arguing for probation for the 45-year-old, but Mabley believed a prison term was more appropriate.
To deter people, I think a prison sentence is justified, he said, according to My Fox Twin Cities.
Phanthavong's family said they forgave Senser for her actions.
It felt like some closure, said Kono Phanthavong, Anousone Phanthavong's brother. We forgive her. It's hard for both sides right now. The judge felt her remorse was real. We felt the same way.
Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, said he was disappointed by the sentence and believed prosecutors pushed for prison to make an example out of his client, My Fox Twin Cities reported.
There is more of a desire, or a public desire, to see her punished heavily, Nelson said. But I don't know that the state is doing anything differently than it would do in any other case.