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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:11 PM   #1
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Default 'Toyota defense' could reverse criminal conviction?

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(CNN) -- A man serving eight years for vehicular homicide because of a fatal crash involving his Toyota Camry is hoping for exoneration amid concerns over unintended acceleration in some of Toyota's vehicles.

Koua Fong Lee has always maintained his innocence in the 2006 crash. Then 29 years old, he was driving home from Sunday services with his pregnant wife, father, daughter, brother and niece in his 1996 Toyota Camry.

Lee told investigators that he pumped the brakes as he exited I-94 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and approached an intersection, his lawyer, Brent Schaefer, said. But Ramsey County prosecutors claimed Lee had his foot on the gas as he approached cars waiting at a red light.

The car was moving at between 70 and 90 mph when it struck two other vehicles. Javis Adams, 33, and his 10-year-old son, Javis Adams Jr., were killed instantly. Another passenger, 6-year-old Devyn Bolton, was left paraplegic. She testified in a wheelchair at Lee's trial and later died from her injuries.

Two mechanical engineers examined the car before trial on behalf of the state and the defense, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said. Both concluded the brakes were operating and there were no problems with the acceleration, she said.

Although the throttle was found set open at 15 percent, which is unusual, the abnormality was attributed at the time to damage from the crash, she said.

"Bottom line, two experts -- one for each side -- said there was nothing wrong with the car," she said.

A jury convicted Lee of criminal vehicular homicide and he was sentenced to eight years in prison. But he continues to maintain his innocence.

"I know that lives were lost that day, but I did everything within my power to try to stop that vehicle," Lee said in a recent prison interview with CNN affiliate KARE. "I never intended for this to happen."

The 1996 Camry is not a part of Toyota's recall.

Relatives of the victims, who asked the judge to give him the maximum sentence, now support him, said Bob Hilliard, a Texas lawyer who is preparing a lawsuit against Toyota on the family's behalf.

"I am passionate about getting him out and suing Toyota," Hilliard told CNN. He said the family feels "betrayed" by the evidence that led to Lee's conviction.

"It was all smoke and mirrors," Hilliard said.

"I hope to get to the bottom of it and find the truth," Quincy Adams, who survived the crash but lost his son, told KARE. "I feel that the boy [Koua Fong Lee] is innocent."

Lee's accident is among the first of a growing number of cases getting a second look since Toyota announced a recall, acknowledging that problems with sudden acceleration were more extensive than originally thought.

In testimony last week before Congress, company executives apologized for underestimating the problem.

A search of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's online complaint database revealed 526 incidents listed for the 1996 Toyota Camry. Among the complaints concerning air bags, tires, steering and visibility were at least two dozen related to "vehicle speed control," some dating back to 1997.

"The contact states that while driving at 65 mph when placing her foot on the brake and slowing down, the vehicle accelerated on its own," an October 17, 2009, report states. "By putting extreme pressure on the brake, she was able to pull over and turned off vehicle."

In a July 26, 2003, incident, a 1996 Camry waiting at a red light lurched forward into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by a car and a motorcycle. The complaint states that the motorcyclist died five years later of injuries caused by the accident.

"With Toyota in the news, found reports of other 1996 Camry's [sic] with sudden acceleration so filed this complaint," the incident summary states.

Not all the entries for "vehicle speed control" complain of sudden acceleration.

"On several occasions the vehicle failed to respond when the accelerator was depressed," a February 25, 1998 complaint says.

Toyota recalled more than 8 million vehicles, prompting Lee's attorney to seek a re-examination of the vehicle in the 2006 accident.

"This never seemed right. A man with his family in the car -- his pregnant wife -- goes on a suicide mission? Then, the recalls started, and the complaints sounded just like what happened to Mr. Lee," lawyer Brent Schaefer said. "It sounds just like a case of unintended acceleration."

Schaefer says he has filed paperwork with the court stating his intention to retest the car, which remains in a vehicle impound.

"We plan to employ experts familiar with the '96 Camry and the components that make up car to show that rapid acceleration is to blame for the accident, not Mr. Lee accidentally stepping on the accelerator," he said.

Gaertner said her office is willing to cooperate with the examination and see where the results lead.

"We have no interest in an innocent man being behind bars. Accordingly, we are very open to considering evidence that might show that in fact he wasn't guilty," Gaertner said. "If we're going to disturb a conviction we need evidence."
http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/03/02/...appeal/?hpt=C2

I think this is quite interesting. This guy killed three people in a collision and now his attorney is trying to use the Toyota recall as proof of his innocence, even though his 1996 Camry was built long before the list of recalled vehicles. Yet, there have been several other documented sudden acceleration cases that have now come to light involving late '90s model Toyota's. I would feel sorry for the guy if he truly was innocent and had to serve time for an accident that was not his fault, but at the same time I can't help but to wonder if they are just trying to take advantage of the current recall to free him from prison.

Thoughts?
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:22 PM   #2
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if he had a big red dot on the side of his camry id probably have to say it wasnt and accident
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:36 PM   #3
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"I know that lives were lost that day, but I did everything within my power to try to stop that vehicle," Lee said in a recent prison interview with CNN affiliate KARE. "I never intended for this to happen."

Am I missing something here? Is shutting the car off, shifting into neutral, downshifting so you aren't doing 90 not an option? I would like to know what "everything in his power" was exactly.

I say guilty as fukc and using this as a reason to get out.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:43 PM   #4
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^ ^ exactly...econo-box drivers around the city tend to be very aggressive, and not so smart or cautious.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:46 PM   #5
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Did the engineers look at the PCM data showing the brake switch? It should have shown if the brakes were pressed or not, thus proving his story. I wouldn't think a 15% open throttle could cause you to not slow down. If he was pressing the brakes, and his throttle was stuck and he wasn't slowing enough, that means he was going well over 100 before he started to slow to 90.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 02:09 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chief Brody View Post
Am I missing something here? Is shutting the car off, shifting into neutral, downshifting so you aren't doing 90 not an option? I would like to know what "everything in his power" was exactly.

I say guilty as fukc and using this as a reason to get out.
Google the incident with the off-duty cop + wife that were on with 911 while the car was doing whatever the fukc it wanted. Not exactly a helpless individual and they had time enough to make a phone call while fucking with controls. There's a really wide variety of reports that all indicate other controls failed to work during the runaways, to include the push-button ignitions. When it happens, the instinct is to try to steer/stop, not take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to grasp the shifter when you are in panic mode and have reduced fine motor skills.

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^ ^ exactly...econo-box drivers around the city tend to be very aggressive, and not so smart or cautious.
Guy had his whole family in the car with him. The circumstances don't really illustrate road rage and his surviving passengers are actually lobbying for his release, now. But a carload of people arguing in an oriental language would probably be pretty fucking annoying and might make me go on a suicide run, too.


A quick glance at Wikipedia on the Camry said that 1996 was the last year of that generation car, but Toyota was running the 3rd and 4th-gen Camry's concurrently starting in 1994. His car could possibly have had some of the newer controls of the 4th generation Camry, of which there are numerous reports of runaway vehicles - some of which are in the article. Kind of sounded like the US went from 3rd to 5th, but the problematic hardware could have originated in the 4th-gen and just never made it to the US.

OEM's don't just up and admit to everything when it comes to recalls. The current GM recall is currently limited to the small cars, but loss of P/S was also a known problem in the Malibu platform due to what appeared to be a retardedly-designed failure mode on the steering unit (overvoltage condition would result in the unit shutting off to save itself - nevermind saving the passengers ). I wouldn't be that surprised if they end up claiming to have found something wrong with his Camry.

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Old March 3rd, 2010, 02:20 PM   #7
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 02:20 PM   #8
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But a carload of people arguing in an oriental language would probably be pretty fucking annoying and might make me go on a suicide run, too.
Immortal . . . please take note and do not let PP drive you anywhere.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 02:29 PM   #9
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I think Asians are just bad drivers in general.

From what Ive gathered, I thought all the problems have stemmed from the "drive by wire" throttle peddles and bad pcm signals? Ifs thats the case I'm pretty sure Toyota's had a standard throttle cable setup in 96 and not the wireless systems of today.

I have also wondered why people don't stop and think for 1 second and put the car in neutral. Ive had my Jeep's throttle get stuck while driving once on the highway, i put it in neutral first then looked to see what the problem was, damn floor mat They make rev limiters for a reason.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 02:30 PM   #10
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Someone here at work said they saw a Prius with a front bumper sticker printed for rear-view mirror viewing which said something to the effect of, "You should probably get out of my way."
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 02:43 PM   #11
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Someone here at work said they saw a Prius with a front bumper sticker printed for rear-view mirror viewing which said something to the effect of, "You should probably get out of my way."
I'm trying to get one made for my Tacoma that reads "I'm not speeding, my gas pedal is stuck."
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chief Brody View Post
Am I missing something here? Is shutting the car off, shifting into neutral, downshifting so you aren't doing 90 not an option? I would like to know what "everything in his power" was exactly.

I say guilty as fukc and using this as a reason to get out.
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^ ^ exactly...econo-box drivers around the city tend to be very aggressive, and not so smart or cautious.
Ignorance abounds.

If you have never experienced a car doing its own thing while you're at the controls, you will never understand.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:09 PM   #13
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I'm trying to get one made for my Tacoma that reads "I'm not speeding, my gas pedal is stuck."


You should start selling those...seriously.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:15 PM   #14
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I say guilty. I have had a pedal stick to the floor on me. I am 19 and was 17 at the time, so not a ton of driving experience, probably less than the idiot driving the camry. I didnt just let the truck take me away into another car. I pushed the brakes hard and pushed it into neutral and shut the vehicle off. Not hard, and i was maybe 50ft from an intersection with cars flying through it. Don't buy aftermarket floor mats lol
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:20 PM   #15
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On a serious note, at the time the engineers found nothing that proved his story. Mechanical failures can happen, and you are still driving the vehicle and responsible for it. If a gun goes off while it was in my pocket, I'm going to be held responsible.

I think he's using current stories to try and get himself off the hook.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:22 PM   #16
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if the guy is truly innocent there is no reason not to re-investigate the case. the nice thing about our justice system is that his innocence may be now proven.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:25 PM   #17
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Ignorance abounds.

If you have never experienced a car doing its own thing while you're at the controls, you will never understand.
I'm not ignorant, just very skeptical.

While I have not been behind the wheel of one of these vehicles, it doesn't take a fucking genious to realize there are alternatives ways to stop a vehicle aside from pressing the brakes.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:39 PM   #18
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On a serious note, at the time the engineers found nothing that proved his story. Mechanical failures can happen, and you are still driving the vehicle and responsible for it. If a gun goes off while it was in my pocket, I'm going to be held responsible.

I think he's using current stories to try and get himself off the hook.
Let's not bring your history with premature ejaculation into scope, mkay?
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 04:48 PM   #19
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Older Toyota cars are jumpers too? - Great Lakes 4x4. The largest offroad forum in the Midwest
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 04:59 PM   #20
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I don't understand why people have such a problem driving. My jeep doesn't stop in the snow unless you put it in neutral or 4wd because my rear brakes won't adjust like they are supposed to. Have I ever hit anything, no. So why do all these people suck so much at avoiding accidents when something goes wrong.
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