Defense exam of Camry finds throttle problems
A vehicle inspector hired by attorneys for a St. Paul man imprisoned after a fatal crash in his Toyota Camry has found problems with the car's accelerator system, according to a copy of his report.
Inspector Richard Dusek wrote the accelerator-to-throttle linkage in Koua Fong Lee's 1996 Camry did not move freely and stayed stuck in the idle position. "This could have held the throttle open after the accelerator pedal was released for a braking maneuver," he wrote.
Dusek also found the cruise control and throttle mechanisms were stuck together when the inspection started and that, too, "could have contributed to the failure of the driver's release of the Accelerator Pedal to affect engine and vehicle speed."
The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported on the inspector's conclusions Thursday.
Lee insisted at his trial and in recent interviews from prison that he did everything he could to stop his 1996 Camry as it sped up a freeway exit ramp and slammed into an Oldsmobile in June 2006. Three people died, and Lee is now serving an eight-year prison sentence for criminal vehicular homicide.
Recent reports of sudden acceleration in Toyotas prompted a new look at his case. Mechanics for Lee, the victim's family and the Ramsey County attorney's office inspected the Camry in late April.
Dusek also judged from an inspection of the left rear brake light that Lee was braking at the time of the accident. That conclusion had been reported previously.
He noted that the inspection did not include the operation of the electronics that controlled the vehicle's engine and cruise control, although he did look at them and saw nothing wrong.
Janet Hafner, a spokeswoman with the Ramsey County attorney's office, said the office had not yet received the defense report nor the inspection report from its own experts and had no comment Thursday.
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