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Could Tony Stewart be charged with a crime in driver's death?

The story of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart reportedly hitting and killing another driver with his car has been a sad and puzzling event. The 20-year-old driver had reportedly been run into a wall during a race on a dirt track in upstate New York, less than a day before a NASCAR event at Watkins Glen. A video shows the driver angrily exiting his disabled car in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart.

What happened next was a tragic event that raises considerable questions. The driver was reportedly struck by Stewart’s car tire and was allegedly thrown 50 feet. A medical examiner indicated that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Authorities have interviewed Stewart and report that he was “visibly shaken” and has been cooperative in the investigation, which is ongoing. It appears that investigators want to procure video that gives them the best footage to determine whether a crime has occurred.

The different angles and perspectives are important not only in establishing that a crime occurred, but in being able to prove each element of a crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Most county attorneys operate under the assumption that if they don’t believe that they will be able to obtain a conviction, they will not bring charges.

Right now, there may be substantial questions as to whether prosecutors can prove that Stewart had the requisite intent to kill the driver, which could lead to a murder conviction;  or whether Stewart showed reckless indifference to life, which could lead to a manslaughter conviction. Nevertheless, additional footage could lead to criminal charges. 

Source: “NASCAR’s Stewart hits, kills driver on NY Track,” August 10, 2014

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