Separate Ahmong Equals…Pt 2

Continue on with this astonishing story, the revelations began as I navigated the Innocence Project of Minnesota website. I had clicked on the page that lists movies and books depicting wrongful conviction cases. I noticed one book that had been added recently. Its title read, “The Road to Freedom; Strangers Restore Justice for an Innocent Man,” by Trudy Baltazar. Hmmm…interesting. Similar to the kind of activity I was engaging in with the Wisconsin Monfils case. I read the paragraph next to the book image and saw that it was about the famous Toyota case which happened here in Minnesota. I was intrigued and wanted to find out if the author was local. I did a search. It appeared that she not only lives in Minnesota but is close to where I live. Wow. I wondered why I wasn’t aware of what she was doing. I decided to search for her online. She was definitely someone I wanted to meet. I found a link to purchase her book. I ordered a copy which also prompted me to highlight Mr. Lee’s case that month for my exoneree series.

A crucial detail I learned about Mr. Lee’s case was that approximately 33 months after he was imprisoned, an attorney filed a request for an evidentiary hearing. The purpose of this hearing was for the judge to rule on whether or not to grant him a new trial based on new evidence that had come to light. The hearing was granted, but then according to Trudy’s book, this happened:

Upon hearing a news broadcast in St. Paul, Minnesota about a husband/father who was wrongfully imprisoned after he drove a car that suddenly accelerated and killed three people, Trudy Baltazar felt compelled to act. She didn’t know the man and she didn’t know the victims but she felt something wasn’t right when the county attorney opposed a new trial even though there was new evidence and 44 new witnesses”.

Trudy had organized a rally in front of the Ramsey County Courthouse. She contacted the local media and one reporter privately contacted her to ask if she would be interested in doing an interview. Trudy was warned that she would be on the front page of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and as it turned out, the article appeared on a Monday, the same day as the rally was to be held. The rally was an overwhelming success with people from all ethnicities and walks of life showing up to voice their concern over this opposition. All of the major local TV stations were there and Trudy was interviewed by each of them.  Big news in Minnesota and in my neck of the woods! But where was I?

This rally had taken place in the summer of 2010. I thought about the timing and it occurred to me that this was the same time that I was heavily involved in advocating for the five Wisconsin men. I’d been making numerous trips to Green Bay to strategize about how to get our own attention concerning those convictions. We were embroiled in our own controversy as I pushed for a risky and bold move, to stage our own rally in Downtown Green Bay near the Brown County Courthouse.

Our rally had to happen on October 28th which is the date in 1995 when the guilty verdicts were handed down. The press surrounding the Monfils Conspiracy book was starting to wane and the pressure was on to keep the momentum going about this injustice. A rally was the only way to get the necessary attention. We could not afford to allow this opportunity to slip away. Until now, no one had pursued this sort of activity and I knew it was up to me to bring it alive.

Trudy states in her book that she had been innately compelled to do something big, though she didn’t know what. How ironic it is for two determined women with essentially the same motivations to simultaneously be inspired. What’s more, to share in a similar event that would cause a shake-down of an entire law enforcement community in two separate states? Whew! You cannot predict something like that.

Well…Trudy and I became good friends. I admire her because of her selfless actions to help an innocent man-a man who is now free. Trudy succeeded in doing something that few are able or willing to do. For this reason, I asked her to speak at one of our car shows to tell her story. Trudy works full time but stays in contact with Koua’s family. She remains an advocate for others in matters concerning the unintentional acceleration issue. I continue to work on what my legacy will be. How fortunate for two gutsy women leading their own charges in the abolition of wrongful convictions, to cross paths. We stay connected and lend support for each others’ efforts to make a difference for those whose voices have been silenced and forgotten.

Lastly, when I wrapped my mind around all I had learned, another thing hit me like a Mac truck. A few years back, when I was parking my 1999 Toyota behind a restaurant, it proceeded to do the exact same thing as Mr. Lee’s. It unintentionally accelerated at an unbelievably high speed despite my efforts of putting pressure on the brake! Luckily, I was able to shut the ignition off which stopped the acceleration. This incident had slipped my mind until now, because, unlike in Koua’s case, my experience did not result in anyone’s death.

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3 thoughts on “Separate Ahmong Equals…Pt 2

  1. CharleneBlake

    Excellent insights, Joan! Your generous work is commendable! You and Trudy inspire and motivate others to seek the truth even if an uphill climb!

    Who knew that driving a Toyota or Lexus could result in jail time and worse if a sudden unintended acceleration accident occurred? Toyota said all this is over because the recall has been done and it has paid its $1.2 billion fine. THINK again if you believe that claim! The real problem currently is ELECTRONIC SUA and accidents are happening daily. Many of these involve vehicles in parking lots when braking is initiated. Storefront crashes and crashes-into-buildings/homes are reported. Toyota finds the vehicle faultless…no code stored and EDR (black box) shows no braking. However, Toyota and Lexus drivers report the vehicle “taking off” or “having a mind of its own.” These same vehicles have been reported going airborne from a standstill starting point in a parking lot!

    Here are the critical issues:

    Sloppily-designed Toyota electronic throttle system software (see Michael Barr’s findings) equals RUNAWAY—a.k.a. sudden unintended acceleration—-Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

    Worse? The electronic fail-safe—a.k.a. the way to stop the runaway—is also rendered ineffective at the time of the SUA glitch (Michael Barr, embedded software expert).

    Translation? Your runaway Toyota or Lexus is not going to stop until something stops it!

    Even worse? Your Toyota or Lexus EDR—a.k.a black box—is going to record inconsistent, unreliable data (see Dr. Antony Anderson’s findings).

    Problem? You will be CHARGED for any deaths or injuries to others as a result of an accident your runaway vehicle causes based on the faulty EDR results and an assumption of “driver pedal misapplication.”

    More of a problem? You may go to JAIL or prison if the EDR erroneously shows that you are not braking—which it has for others more often than not. Essentially, you will be deemed not telling the truth or confused in media coverage because Toyota will say its EDR is accurate—even though it admitted this data was unreliable previously.

    Even a bigger problem? If there is any chance a detail comes out that supports the driver, the media will take sides with the automaker and support your character assassination publicly. Are you on prescription meds or any medications? Are you an older citizen? Are you a woman and older? Bingo! Elderly pedal misapplication, according to media and Toyota.

    Don’t worry…all your skeletons will be dug up as Toyota goes full steam ahead to escape blame for faulty electronics! Just keep track of all these mysterious vehicles-into-homes and storefront crashes and read the headlines. Read the PR propaganda supporting driver error.

    Toyota’s $$ goes far and wide…even to the heart of the very agency commissioned to protect your SAFETY! The DOJ and NHTSA are still looking the other way—a.k.a. protecting corporate interests. They do not want to open up the ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration issue as then there will be a public cover-up scandal which rivals the best—or worst—of them.

    All the above doesn’t factor in the so far little-known in the U.S. whistleblower, Betsy Benjaminson. She’s has copies of hundreds of internal Toyota documents. Many of these show clear evidence of concern over an electronic throttle system problem—a.k.a. “ghost in the engine”—and the lack of fix for it. Betsy has a blog where she has posted some of the evidence. She’s been the feature of several articles and a podcast interview outside the U.S. Google her name to find.

    Toyota, the media, and the government seem to be handling each new suspicious runaway vehicle accident—a.k.a. driver states pressing brake when the vehicle takes off, becomes airborne, has a mind of its own, etc.—on a case-by-case basis. Apparently, there is the hope that each case will blow over with little public attention. There is hope, too, that the public buys into the PR machine working overtime with law enforcement and media to BLAME the vehicle driver. SUA victim = SCAPEGOAT.

    As far as Toyota is concerned, it is DONE with the topic of sudden unintended acceleration. Period. It got the free pass with a huge U.S. Government fine—a.k.a. permission not to face the music regarding ELECTRONIC SUA. Floor mats, pedals, driver error…done DEAL.

    Toyota’s well-orchestrated smoke screen continues aided and abetted by our very own safety regulatory agency. Can’t beat that! The sky’s the limit now…think of all the untoward consequences for Toyota owners, not to mention the driving public.

    Toyota is #1 in numbers of sudden unintended acceleration events. BUT…it is not alone! This is an industry-wide phenomenon and not one automaker wants the public knowledgeable about ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration.

    Reply
    1. Joan Treppa Post author

      Hi Charlene. Thank you as well for your important points on this subject. I know you’ve done a lot of research on this issue and together, you and Trudy are trying to create the necessary awareness so that drivers of these vehicles can take caution and be safer. We know that manufacturers do not always have these same concerns and that it ends up being about money more than anything! Keep up the great work!

      Reply
  2. CharleneBlake

    Reblogged this on Charlene Blake's Blog and commented:
    Who knew that driving a Toyota or Lexus could result in jail time and worse if a sudden unintended acceleration accident occurred? Toyota said all this is over because the recall has been done and it has paid its $1.2 billion fine. THINK again if you believe that claim! The real problem currently is ELECTRONIC SUA and accidents are happening daily. Many of these involve vehicles in parking lots when braking is initiated. Storefront crashes and crashes-into-buildings/homes are reported. Toyota finds the vehicle faultless…no code stored and EDR (black box) shows no braking. However, Toyota and Lexus drivers report the vehicle “taking off” or “having a mind of its own.” These same vehicles have been reported going airborne from a standstill starting point in a parking lot!

    Here are the critical issues:

    Sloppily-designed Toyota electronic throttle system software (see Michael Barr’s findings) equals RUNAWAY—a.k.a. sudden unintended acceleration—-Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

    Worse? The electronic fail-safe—a.k.a. the way to stop the runaway—is also rendered ineffective at the time of the SUA glitch (Michael Barr, embedded software expert).

    Translation? Your runaway Toyota or Lexus is not going to stop until something stops it!

    Even worse? Your Toyota or Lexus EDR—a.k.a black box—is going to record inconsistent, unreliable data (see Dr. Antony Anderson’s findings).

    Problem? You will be CHARGED for any deaths or injuries to others as a result of an accident your runaway vehicle causes based on the faulty EDR results and an assumption of “driver pedal misapplication.”

    More of a problem? You may go to JAIL or prison if the EDR erroneously shows that you are not braking—which it has for others more often than not. Essentially, you will be deemed not telling the truth or confused in media coverage because Toyota will say its EDR is accurate—even though it admitted this data was unreliable previously.

    Even a bigger problem? If there is any chance a detail comes out that supports the driver, the media will take sides with the automaker and support your character assassination publicly. Are you on prescription meds or any medications? Are you an older citizen? Are you a woman and older? Bingo! Elderly pedal misapplication, according to media and Toyota.

    Don’t worry…all your skeletons will be dug up as Toyota goes full steam ahead to escape blame for faulty electronics! Just keep track of all these mysterious vehicles-into-homes and storefront crashes and read the headlines. Read the PR propaganda supporting driver error.

    Toyota’s $$ goes far and wide…even to the heart of the very agency commissioned to protect your SAFETY! The DOJ and NHTSA are still looking the other way—a.k.a. protecting corporate interests. They do not want to open up the ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration issue as then there will be a public cover-up scandal which rivals the best—or worst—of them.

    All the above doesn’t factor in the so far little-known in the U.S. whistleblower, Betsy Benjaminson. She’s has copies of hundreds of internal Toyota documents. Many of these show clear evidence of concern over an electronic throttle system problem—a.k.a. “ghost in the engine”—and the lack of fix for it. Betsy has a blog where she has posted some of the evidence. She’s been the feature of several articles and a podcast interview outside the U.S. Google her name to find.

    Toyota, the media, and the government seem to be handling each new suspicious runaway vehicle accident—a.k.a. driver states pressing brake when the vehicle takes off, becomes airborne, has a mind of its own, etc.—on a case-by-case basis. Apparently, there is the hope that each case will blow over with little public attention. There is hope, too, that the public buys into the PR machine working overtime with law enforcement and media to BLAME the vehicle driver. SUA victim = SCAPEGOAT.

    As far as Toyota is concerned, it is DONE with the topic of sudden unintended acceleration. Period. It got the free pass with a huge U.S. Government fine—a.k.a. permission not to face the music regarding ELECTRONIC SUA. Floor mats, pedals, driver error…done DEAL.

    Toyota’s well-orchestrated smoke screen continues aided and abetted by our very own safety regulatory agency. Can’t beat that! The sky’s the limit now…think of all the untoward consequences for Toyota owners, not to mention the driving public.

    Toyota is #1 in numbers of sudden unintended acceleration events. BUT…it is not alone! This is an industry-wide phenomenon and not one automaker wants the public knowledgeable about ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration.

    Reply

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