August 6, 2010
Lommen Abdo was recently involved in the post-conviction hearing concerning Koua Fong Lee. Kay Hunt, Bryan Feldhaus, Diane Odeen and Nick Dolejsi provided legal strategy, issue analysis and briefing support to Brent Schafer and Bob Hilliard, Lee’s lead counsel, in petitioning the Ramsey County District Court for post-conviction relief based on newly discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel. Bryan Feldhaus appeared in the Star Tribune cover photo taken during Mr. Lee’s release.
In June of 2006, Koua Fong Lee was returning from church with his family in his 1996 Toyota Camry. While exiting Interstate-94 onto Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, Lee’s Camry began to suddenly accelerate. Lee applied the brakes, but his brakes failed to stop or slow his vehicle. Lee’s Camry struck an Oldsmobile killing the Oldsmobile’s driver and his 10-year-old son. A third passenger, a seven-year-old girl, was also severely injured in the accident and died approximately a year and a half later.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s office charged Lee with vehicular homicide. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for which he served 2 ½ years. During the criminal trial, Lee maintained that he had applied the brakes before the accident, but that his brakes failed to work properly.
Following reports of sudden unintended acceleration problems in the Toyota Camry model, Lee petitioned the Ramsey County District Court for a new trial based upon claims of newly-discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel. He was granted an evidentiary hearing during which evidence of sudden unintended acceleration and Lee’s braking attempt was presented to the Court.
Lommen Abdo assisted with Lee’s case during the post-conviction evidentiary hearing. Kay Hunt, Diane Odeen, Bryan Feldhaus and Nick Dolejsi provided legal strategy, issue analysis, and briefing support to Brent Schafer and Bob Hilliard, Lee’s lead counsel, on issues of newly-discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the evidence and arguments presented during the hearing, Judge Joanne Smith ruled there was sufficient new evidence to grant Lee a new trial, overturned the prior conviction and ordered Lee to be released on August 6, 2010. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office announced shortly thereafter that it would not file new charges against Lee.
Read the Star Tribune article.