Koua Fong Lee
Koua Fong Lee was wrongfully convicted of vehicular homicide in 2007 after his 1996 Toyota Camry accelerated uncontrollably at the end of a St. Paul freeway exit ramp and crashed into two vehicles, ultimately killing a man and two children and injuring two others.
Lee, who always maintained his innocence, was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. Two years later, Toyota revealed that some of its cars were experiencing acceleration issues. The Innocence Project of Minnesota, and attorneys Brent Schafer and Bob Hilliard uncovered strong evidence that—like other Toyota vehicles—Lee’s car malfunctioned, causing it to accelerate and crash.
Students working on the case through the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Minnesota Law School interviewed numerous other Toyota drivers who had experienced the same problems with their own Toyotas and drafted and collected over 50 affidavits from them. After serving almost three years in prison, Mr. Lee was released and exonerated on August 5, 2010, when the judge ordered a new trial and the prosecution decided to drop the charges.
As reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on 12/2/2014: “Attorneys for Lee, who was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide after crashing his Toyota Camry in 2006, have filed a stipulation in Ramsey County District Court for him to receive compensation under a law that took effect July 1. The Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act provides a minimum of $50,000 per year of imprisonment, plus actual costs incurred by the defendant, for any individual wrongfully imprisoned who meets certain other requirements.”