A St. Paul, Minnesota native who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for multiple convictions might have the chance to get out of jail and be reunited with his family.
In 2006, Kuoa Fong Lee, 32, crashed his Toyota Camry into another vehicle and killed three people while seriously injuring two other in the process. Lee testified in the courts that he did all he could do to prevent the crash but served with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. Lee insisted that he stepped on the brakes but his 1996 Camry would not respond.
The recent unintended acceleration issues of current Toyota models and the massive recall prompted Lee and his attorneys to request a retrial. Lee’s defense said that their client’s Camry may have experienced the same defects when the accident happened.
Testimonies from several Toyota owners mirror Lee’s experience with his 1996 Camry. Nine owners have recently went public and told that their reliable Toyotas suddenly became fatally unresponsive while in operation.
John Gathright of Virginia owns a 1995 Camry and had no problems with it until in September 2002, when Gathright’s Camry suddenly increased its acceleration even after he stepped on the brakes. He manages to stop his car by maneuvering over to the right side of the highway, got on an incline, and shut off the car to get it to stop.
Other Toyota owners have experienced the same occurrence. One woman described that her vehicle suddenly “roared” when she tried to rev her vehicle. Another man said he was only able to stop his car by crashing it into another car.
Lee’s wife Panghoua Moua stated that her hopes for her husband to come home have risen up especially after hearing the testimonies of other Toyota owners who shared similar experiences. The families of the victims are also supportive of Lee, whom they believe is innocent.
A car expert has said in his findings that that the brakes of Lee’s car were engaged at the time of the accidents. However, two car experts hired by the Office of the Ramsey County Attorney inspected Lee’s car and refuted the claims of the first car expert and said that the car in question does not possess any evidence that might link it to the unintended acceleration issues experienced in other Toyota vehicles.
The current wave of criticism for their vehicles’ integrity and reliability prompted Toyota Motor Corporation to recall more than 8 million models worldwide. The issues faced by the giant carmaker include faulty gas pedals and defective acceleration systems.
Authorities have also speculated that issues present in Toyota cars may be connected to at least 93 vehicular-related deaths in the past 10 years.
Last Monday, around 100 people showed up bringing placards with “Free Koua Now” and marched outside the courthouse while the hearing took place.