Jailed man seeks new trial using ‘Toyota’ defence

Surely

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Oct 27, 2007
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http://www.wheels.ca/newsFeatures/article/784680

An excerpt:

Ever since his 1996 Toyota Camry shot up an interstate ramp, plowing into the back of an Oldsmobile in a horrific crash that killed three people, Koua Fong Lee insisted he had done everything he could to stop the car.

A jury didn’t believe him, and a judge sentenced him to eight years in prison. But now, new revelations of safety problems with Toyotas have Lee pressing to get his case reopened and his freedom restored.

Relatives of the victims — who condemned Lee at his sentencing three years ago — now believe he is innocent and are planning to sue Toyota. The prosecutor who sent Lee to prison said he thinks the case merits another look.

“I know 100 per cent in my heart that I took my foot off the gas and that I was stepping on the brakes as hard as possible,” Lee said in an interview Wednesday at the state prison in Lino Lakes. “When the brakes were looked at and we were told that nothing was wrong with the brakes, I was shocked.”
Really unbelievable. It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds.
 

Surely

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Oct 27, 2007
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Well prima facie the facts fit his original plea and story. He really could be innocent.
I know. Which would mean that the last few years of his life have been wasted in jail. Which means he wasn't able to be around to help raise his daughter or his soon-to-be-born baby (his wife was pregnant at the time of the accident).
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
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Gotta love America.

Relatives of the victims — who condemned Lee at his sentencing three years ago — now believe he is innocent and are planning to sue Toyota.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
I know. Which would mean that the last few years of his life have been wasted in jail. Which means he wasn't able to be around to help raise his daughter or his soon-to-be-born baby (his wife was pregnant at the time of the accident).
Pretty crazy when you think of it like that, and how many other miscarriages of justice there might be out there. Even guys on death row who could be innocent but look guilty as hell because of some obscure hidden circumstance that is barely discoverable.

Well if he is innocent, I hope he gets Big damages to get his life back on track.
 

Surely

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Oct 27, 2007
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^^^^ I believe that would depend on State law.


Gotta love America.

Relatives of the victims — who condemned Lee at his sentencing three years ago — now believe he is innocent and are planning to sue Toyota.
Well..... you can't really blame them for condemning him at the trial. Not really an 'America' thing either.....

At the time, Toyota was perfect. They probably just assumed (fairly or unfairly) that the guy would say anything to distance himself from responsibility.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
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Problem is that people have been known to stomp on the WRONG pedal in this situation, when the engine races this is generally the conclusion.

Some of the Toyotas where people did actually step on the brakes to slow the car against a runaway engine did experience brake damage. Though this usually won't occur on a short stretch, or unless you keep your foot on the brake after you superheat the brakes at a light.

---

However, he only needs reasonable doubt these days if he can swing a new trial for the criminal ... suing Toyota is likely a tougher nut to crack, and without enough evidence, rather tough.

Especially if that model is the traditional version with a cable attaching directly to the throttle body.
 

BrianKonarsMac

macrumors 65816
Apr 28, 2004
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Pretty scary to think this guy may not have been at fault, but has been spending time in jail regardless.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
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At least they kept the car in storage in this case, and never had anyone but the city mechanic inspect it.

So even through it is the old style cable controlled throttle body car ... he still has a chance.
 

garybUK

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Jun 3, 2002
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If this is the case and the guy is found innocent and Toyota at fault, shouldn't one of the Toyota's senior people face a gaol term? seeing as this outcome was good for one, why not another? if the problem was known about and not dealt with safely, the Toyota CEO should face a gaol term!
 

Surely

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If this is the case and the guy is found innocent and Toyota at fault, shouldn't one of the Toyota's senior people face a gaol term? seeing as this outcome was good for one, why not another? if the problem was known about and not dealt with safely, the Toyota CEO should face a gaol term!
You mean "jail" when you say "gaol", right? Just checking.....
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
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Wow. Learn something new every day.....

I figured I would have know that, growing up in Canada. But I guess we didn't adopt everything British......
Of course not. You don't drive on the wrong side of the road up there ;)

With regards to the case, 8 years for an accident, even with 3 deaths, seems a bit much, no? Jail is about punishment, rehabilitation and a deterrent. This guy isn't a killer, he's not a violent person, it definitely was not premeditated, he's not going to get out of jail and go ram his car at high speed into another one. A year and some probation would be fine, but 8 years isn't doing anybody any good.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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Well if he is innocent, I hope he gets Big damages to get his life back on track.
I don't. This isn't proof that anything was wrong with HIS car at the time. He could have stepped on the wrong pedal. It's more likely, IMO.

He was found guilty with the evidence available at the time. Just because new evidence arises over time, does not mean that someone (who may be) wrongfully) sentenced to jail should be able to sue.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
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I don't. This isn't proof that anything was wrong with HIS car at the time. He could have stepped on the wrong pedal. It's more likely, IMO.

He was found guilty with the evidence available at the time. Just because new evidence arises over time, does not mean that someone (who may be) wrongfully) sentenced to jail should be able to sue.
No, but if Toyota knew about the problem 8 years ago, and he is found innocent this time around, Toyota could be in hot(ter) water. Actually, if he's found innocent this time around, Toyota could be in hot water simply because they knew about it and did nothing - thus wasting some of his life.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
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No, but if Toyota knew about the problem 8 years ago, and he is found innocent this time around, Toyota could be in hot(ter) water. Actually, if he's found innocent this time around, Toyota could be in hot water simply because they knew about it and did nothing - thus wasting some of his life.
His car was a Toyota built in 1996. That car was built 14 years ago. What are the chances that whatever is responsible for Toyotas problems was already present in a car built 14 years ago, and nobody else ever complained about it? Do you think any Toyota owner should now be able to drive as reckless as they want, and if anything happens they can blame it on malfunctioning brakes?

And it is obvious that the relatives of the victims would rather that the fault lies with a company with deep pockets than with some penniless man who would never be able to pay any damages.
 

Erendiox

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2004
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His car was a Toyota built in 1996. That car was built 14 years ago. What are the chances that whatever is responsible for Toyotas problems was already present in a car built 14 years ago, and nobody else ever complained about it? Do you think any Toyota owner should now be able to drive as reckless as they want, and if anything happens they can blame it on malfunctioning brakes?

And it is obvious that the relatives of the victims would rather that the fault lies with a company with deep pockets than with some penniless man who would never be able to pay any damages.
I agree with this. Toyota's manufacturing defect has only been a problem with recent models.

It's ridiculous to think that if a company is having some safety problems, it suddenly makes all the cars they ever made unsafe. This guy doesn't have a ledge to stand on in my opinion.
 

pvmacguy

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2009
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Jax
He'll probably get his sentencing repealed. But when we gets to suing toyota he will be brutalized.