Freed Toyota Driver: My Children Don't Know Me

Attorney credits ABC News for helping Koua Fong Lee win release from prison.

ByABC News
June 29, 2010, 6:28 PM

Aug. 06, 2010 — -- In his first interview since winning freedom yesterday, Koua Fong Lee, the Minnesota man jailed after his 1996 Toyota Camry sped out of control and killed three people, said his two youngest children don't know their father because he's been imprisoned for vehicular homicide for the past three years.

"The first thing I'm going to do is talk to them, to get to know them, to play with them," Lee told ABC News. "I want them to know I am their daddy. I will teach them what the word daddy means."

After a judge ordered Lee freed from prison Thursday pending a new trial, prosecutors announced they would not try Lee again. Following a four-day hearing, Judge Joanne Smith ruled there was enough evidence to grant a new trial to Lee, who had been serving an eight-year sentence for criminal vehicular homicide. He was convicted in a 2006 crash in which his Toyota Camry crashed into an Oldsmobile, killing driver Javis Adams, his 10-year-old son and injuring Adams' seven-year-old nice Devyn Bolton, who later died of her injuries.

Lee's attorney Bob Hilliard credited an ABC News report from Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross for garnering attention on the case.

"It was the result of the ABC report that brought the people to us that said they want to help us," Hilliard said. Lee's attorneys said dozens of witnesses came forward with similar stories of unintended acceleration problems with their 1996 Toyota Camry's, like what happened in Lee's case.

Before the judge's ruling yesterday, Lee, 32, had rejected a plea deal from prosecutors that would have allowed him to go home a free man, but would still brand him a convicted felon and suspend his driving privileges for 10 years with 15 years of probation.

"He'd rather do the time than to admit to something he knows he didn't do," Hilliard said of Lee. "And he had the courage to say… I'd stay here before I do that."

Lee's wife Panghoua Moua was still elated with her husband's homecoming.

"It means the world to me because I've been without him for three years," Moua Lee said. She added that now, "I feel like my family will become a family again."