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Ex-Viking testifies in wife's hit-and-run trial

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Former Minnesota Viking Joe Senser told a jury Thursday that he wasn't surprised when his wife failed to pick up their daughters and friends from a concert last summer, the same night of a crash that killed a man on an interstate ramp in Minneapolis.

Senser, testifying in his wife's criminal vehicular homicide trial, said she was "fiercely independent," so it wasn't unusual that she didn't make it to the Xcel Energy Center that night.

Amy Senser, 45, faces three counts of vehicular homicide for the Aug. 23 death of Anousone Phanthavong. Prosecutors allege that she hit Phanthavong, 38, of Roseville, then drove away. Her attorney has said she didn't know she hit anybody.

Joe Senser testified Wednesday that his wife told him she thought she had hit a construction cone or barrel with their Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle. When he returned as a witness Thursday, he said his wife's independence was something he referred to as "Amyworld," the Star Tribune reported.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell asked Senser about whether his wife had lied to him about having affairs. While that topic was earlier ruled to be off-limits, Russell was given permission to bring it up Thursday because Joe Senser had testified that his wife had not lied to him during their 22-year marriage.

When asked whether she'd lied about affairs, Senser said he'd never asked her about affairs.

"Did you catch her in inappropriate relationships with other men?" Russell asked.

"No," Senser said.

The couple's 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, broke down before she began testifying later Thursday. She told jurors that she couldn't reach her mother on her cellphone after the concert.

Hannah's former friend, 15-year-old Madeline Hare, testified that she was able to finally reach Amy Senser, who was "in the car and didn't know how to get back."

Joe Senser eventually picked the girls up. When they arrived home, they found Amy Senser waiting on the porch.

In other testimony Thursday, Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Dan Beasley testified about a statement he took from Joe Senser's friend, Dr. Rick Sponaugle, who lives in Florida.

Sponaugle allegedly told authorities that the former football player told him that he and Amy Senser learned about the crash while watching the news, then ran out to the SUV, saw damage and panicked. But Sponaugle's account differs from Joe Senser's, who testified that he saw the damage, was curious, then looked up a news story online.

Amy Senser's attorney, Eric Nelson, pointed out other inconsistencies in Sponaugle's statement to authorities. Among them, Sponaugle had said a wine cooler was in the vehicle, but that wasn't true. Investigators found a Mike's Hard Lemonade bottle cap.

The Pioneer Press reported Beasley also told jurors that Ashlee Senser, one of Joe Senser's daughters from his first marriage, was considered the primary suspect until three days after the accident, when one of Joe Senser's relatives called authorities to say Amy Senser had been driving.

Nine days after the crash, Amy Senser submitted a statement to authorities admitting she was the driver.

Information from: Star Tribune,

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