The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has logged more than 3,000 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, however, that as-yet-unreleased findings by NHTSA will blame driver error for many Toyota accidents involving sudden acceleration, based on analysis of a data recorders from Toyota vehicles. According to the Journal, NHTSA analyzed a sample of vehicles in which drivers said their brakes were depressed but didn't stop their cars from accelerating, and determined that the accelerators were depressed and the brakes were not engaged.
After Bartlett's report, Ramsey County prosecutors said they opposed a new trial for Lee. In a court filing late last month, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaernter concluded Lee had "…not offered any newly-discovered evidence that would establish a claim for new trial."
Judge Joanne Smith has scheduled a hearing for August 2 to allow both sides to argue their case.
When the prosecution announced its opposition to a new trial, Baltazar said she planned for the rally by reaching out to local businesses and media. She said she was pleased with the turnout and the response. "It felt so good and it encouraged me to continue forward on his behalf," said Baltazar.
Baltazar is planning another rally for the August 2nd hearing. In the meantime, she is focusing her efforts on raising money for Lee through the website www.freekoua.com which was launched by Lee's attorney. Baltazar also contacted the Facebook page, "FreeKouaFongLee," launched and maintained by Andrew Gwynn, a music producer and recording engineer in Los Angeles. The page has nearly 6,000 fans from around the world.
Gwynn said he learned about the plight of Koua Fong Lee on ABC's Good Morning America and was compelled to do something.
"I wondered who was standing up for this guy," said Gwynn. "I created the Facebook page that same night. It took me 10 seconds to make the page and in the beginning it was growing by 1000 fans a week with fans from all over the world."
Gwynn said over 150 people joined the site on yesterday as a direct result of the St. Paul protest and that he's asking those on the Facebook page to donate money towards Lee's defense.
"The site has raised nearly $500 since it was started," said Gwynn. "I'm just trying to spread the word, build public support and put pressure on Ramsey County to do the right thing."
"Paul Gustafson, a representative from the Ramsey County Attorney's office, said Monday's protest in St. Paul was "not a huge development in the case." Said Gustafson, "People have an opportunity to comment about these things and I think that's what happened."
In public documents, Gaertner has acknowledged the sensitivity of this case. "I have great sympathy for everyone in the tragic crash, including Mr. Lee and his family. If Mr. Lee was innocent, I certainly didn't want him sitting in prison." She went on to state, "But the law is clear: Newly discovered evidence is required to overturn a conviction. Despite diligent efforts, we found no such evidence."
Gwynn believes social media along with the protest will be instrumental in helping raise awareness about Lee's case. He plans to maintain his Facebook page until Lee is set free.
"It's the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, search the web and update the site," said Gwynn. "Then I work 12-14 hours a day at my job, update the site on breaks and continue to update it when I get home from work. I want him home with his family."