Indianapolis attorney doesn’t think Tony Stewart will be charged in driver’s death

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ONTARIO CO., N.Y. (Sept. 16, 2014) – The fatal dirt track crash involving Tony Stewart will go to a grand jury.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo reviewed the case and said it would be “appropriate” for him to leave it up to a grand jury to look at the evidence and determine what action should be taken.

Stewart hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr., 20, on the track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Aug. 9. Ward had gotten out of his car and walked onto the track to argue with Stewart after he spun out.

Tantillo said the grand jury would be confidential and couldn’t reveal a date or who would be called to testify.

Here’s the official statement:

Over the past several weeks I have reviewed with members of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department their investigation, as it progressed, in the Tony Stewart matter. Recently that office concluded its work and forwarded the complete case file to me. Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation, I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to a grand jury, for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter. Accordingly, the evidence developed in the investigation will be presented to an Ontario County grand jury in the near future.

As grand jury proceedings in New York State are strictly confidential by law, I am unable to state when the matter will be scheduled, other than to state that I intend to present the matter in the near future. Similarly, because of the confidential nature of these proceedings, I cannot state who will be called as witnesses, or what any witness’s expected testimony will be. When the presentation has been completed and a determination has been made, I will advise the public and the media at that time of the results.

Michael Tantillo
Ontario County District Attorney

Stewart reacted with the following statement:

“I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office in investigating this tragic accident. I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation.”

Indianapolis racing expert Robin Miller is watching the case closely. Miller gives perspective to what happened the moments before the crash.

"I don't think it will be lasting, lingering stain on racing. It has affected Tony Stewart.  If you`ve ever sat in a wing sprint car, you can`t see. Your field of vision is like this. It is dark," said Miller.

The Ontario County District Attorney said the case was moving to a Grand Jury "in the near future."

The DA looked at several peice of evidece, incluyding forensic video enhancement done by the New York State Police lab.

Indianapolis attorney Jack Crawford has worked as both a prosecutor and a defenses attorney.

"The fact that the Tony Stewart case is going to a Grand Jury in Ontario County New York suggests to to me that there is not going to be a charge or an indictment. If the prosecutor had a strong case, he could charge out right," said Crawford.

Crawford thinks the DA will present the case to the Grand Jury within the next 45 days. Crawford says Stewart could be asked to testify,

"He doesn`t have to, but he can if he wants too. I would advise my client not to," said Crawford.

Crawford thinks the Grand Jury will focus on Tony Stewart's behavior and Kevin Ward's behavior.

"Did he (Kevin Ward) himself contribute to his own death? If that is the case, Mr. Stewart won`t be charged with any criminal violations," said Crawford.

Tony Stewart sat out three races after the fatal crash.

Stewart's next race is planned for Sunday, September 21 in New Hampshire.