Will ‘Toyota Defense’ Free Jailed Man?

By David Schoetz

Feb 22, 2010 12:03pm

A man convicted of vehicular homicide after a 2006 crash involving his Toyota Camry killed a family of three may have a shot at freedom in the wake of the automaker's recent safety troubles. The convict, 32-year-old Koua Fong Lee, a Laotian refugee, is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Minnesota. Lee has maintained all along that "it was the car" (pictured above at the scene) — not his reckless driving — that caused the fatal crash.  To his point, at the time he was returning from church with his pregnant wife, daughter, brother and father all in the car when the accident happened. Regardless, a jury convicted him. Given the current circumstances, according to Lee and his lawyer, Brent Shafer, the case should be reopened. The county prosecutor says she welcomes an inspection of the vehicle. And even family members of the victims, as well as their attorney, says it's worth another look. Toyota declined to comment, citing the possibility of lawsuits. Here is the report from Brian Ross and Blotter producer Joseph Rhee, which lays things out pretty clearly and includes this slideshow of photos.  It is another big story from the Blotter on the Toyota controversy, which may hit a high-note this week with the scheduled Congressional testimony of company president Akio Toyoda, blogged about here. Embedded below are Brian's interviews with Koua Fong Lee and the victims' family members. UPDATE: We'll have an update tonight about Toyota, including an expert who says a design flaw in the electronic acceleration system may be the root cause and a rather hairy test drive by Brian Ross.   

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