Trial Day 6: Amy Senser Testifies

Updated: 05/01/2012 4:58 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Rolander

Amy Senser choked up on the stand as she testified in her hit-and-run trial in Minneapolis.

Senser tearfully told jurors that she thought she hit a construction barrel or a pothole, not a person, the night of the accident.

Amy Senser, the wife of former Vikings tight end Joe Senser, testified she felt an impact after she exited a freeway in her Mercedes SUV on Aug. 23 in Minneapolis.

"I remember being jolted by the front," Senser testified. "Not exactly sure what had happened. I assumed I had hit something."

Senser is charged with three felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Anousone Phanthavong. Each count carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Phanthavong, a 38-year-old restaurant cook, had run out of gas and pulled his car to the side of the exit ramp. He was filling the car's tank with gas when he was hit at about 11 p.m.

Although Senser's attorney had given her account of the incident during months of legal sparring leading up to trial, Monday marked the first time Senser herself has spoken publicly about the case, which grabbed headlines in part because of her husband's celebrity. Joe Senser played four years with the Vikings before a knee injury ended his career.

Amy Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, opened his questioning by asking Senser how she felt. "Terrified," she said. "But I finally get to speak." Senser choked up several times during her testimony and dabbed at her eyes and nose with a tissue.

She said she left her job at a chiropractic clinic at about 7 p.m. to meet her daughter and her daughter's friends at Katy Perry concert at St. Paul's Xcel Arena. She said she had part of a glass of a wine at a nearby restaurant's outdoor patio before going to the arena but didn't finish the wine because she had to hurry to the concert.

Senser said she spent about 90 minutes at the concert but left because of a headache, intending for Joe Senser to pick up the girls.

But she soon changed her mind and decided to get off the freeway and return to St. Paul. It was shortly after she exited that she struck something.

Senser then described getting lost and eventually calling Joe Senser to pick up the girls. She said she went to the family's Edina home, took her things inside, let their dogs out and laid down on a couch on the front porch to wait for Joe and their daughter to return home.

Senser said it wasn't until the next morning, when Joe Senser called her outside to look at her car, that she realized how damaged it was. The couple then saw a news report on Phanthavong's death.

Prosecutor Deborah Russell asked Senser why she didn't notice one of her headlights was out when she pulled up at her garage. Senser said she simply didn't notice.

Russell also pressed Senser on deleting numerous text messages between herself, her daughter, her husband and other people the night of the crash. Senser said she exchanges a lot of texts - 1,400 per month based on a phone bill introduced in court - and frequently deletes them. She said she wasn't trying to conceal evidence.

The Sensers contacted an attorney and authorities the day after the accident, but it was more than a week before Amy Senser acknowledged to police she was the driver.

Click here to view court documents, a list of possible witnesses and sketches from inside the courtroom.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.