Legal expert: Criminal charges against Tony Stewart still possible

By Evan Hilbert |

tony stewart
Tony Stewart could still possibly face criminal charges. (Getty Images)

More on accident: Ward Sr.: 'No reason' for Stewart's actions | No return timetable

Tony Stewart could still face criminal charges even if it is decided that he didn't intend to kill -- or even hurt or scare -- Kevin Ward Jr. Saturday night in New York state.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Corey Rayburn Yung, a law professor, said that under New York law Stewart could potentially be charged with manslaughter if it is proven that he acted recklessly.

"The question over whether someone was reckless is a factual one, and one a prosecutor might let a jury decide," Yung said.

An investigation by the Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero is ongoing and expected to last at least two more weeks. Povero says that he has not seen evidence of criminal intent thus far.

"In sports we tend to allow all sorts of conduct we'd never allow in another circumstance," Yung told the AP. "But this isn't a collision. It's not in that ballpark; it's something you don't expect. This is a more complicated scenario. We're assuming Stewart didn't mean to do this, and yet a death resulted."

Essentially, the investigation will have to determine that Ward Jr.'s death resulted from events that occur in the normal course of an auto race. If not, then a manslaughter charge could be levied.

"The worst thing that could happen for Stewart is if his story doesn't seem to match other evidence," Yung said. "Because then it might call into question his own story."

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