Despite Ontario County Sherriff Philip Povero saying that there has been no evidence thus far proving Stewart may have acted irresponsibly and that there are no criminal charges pending you’d think the NASCAR driver would be celebrating, but it’s not quite that simple. According to a recent analysis, Stewart could still be on the hook for several other charges if certain evidence comes to light.
As you all have probably heard, Stewart managed to kill a 20-year-old driver by the name of Kevin Ward Jr. after he exited his vehicle. In a blind fury, after having been pushed off the track by Stewart, Ward hopped out of his car and put on quite the show intent on yelling at Stewart as he passed by. Instead of passing by however, Stewart clipped Ward resulting in what is believed to have been a broken neck and his eventual death.
According to Sports Illustrated’s, Michael McCann, there are a slew of other charges just barking at Stewart’s door that he could be faced with, if not immediately, months or even years down the line. McCann writes, “The most serious legal consequences of Ward’s death are those grounded in New York criminal law.”
The fact that Povero has stated that there is no evidence is exactly what Stewart wants to hear as without evidence, there can be no way to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt. Just because there is not any proof now however, doesn’t mean any will surface in the future.
According to TMZ, “The sheriff also told us there were no recordings of communication between Stewart and his pit crew — though our sources say that’s standard ops for a small race not airing on TV.” Local police have however asked anyone with recordings of the night’s events come forward so they can further investigate any and all angles of the incident.
The trouble for Stewart would arise if law enforcement were able to prove that Stewart was acting in a reckless manner – some have already speculated that Stewart was intentionally trying to drive close to Ward in order to spray him with mud. If this was the case, and his notorious arrogant behavior resulted in the death of another drive, he could be in for some time behind bars.
As we previously reported, Ward’s friend, Tyler Graves, stated, “I know Tony could see [Ward] . . . When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle.” If more eyewitness testimony, and experience drivers came forward expressing a similar notion, Stewart could find himself in some hot water as pressure like this would result in Povero pursuing charges.
According to McCann:
Along those lines, it is at least plausible that a grand jury could conclude that while Stewart did not intend to kill Ward – which, when accompanied by other elements, would constitute murder in the first degree – he may have engaged in conduct consistent with murder in the second degree. Under New York law, murder in the second degree entails acting with a depraved indifference to human life and recklessly engaging in conduct that “creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby cause the death of another person.” New York classifies murder in the second degree as an A-I felony, and it carries up to a life sentence and minimum of 15 years behind bars.
A slew of other charges could be staring down Stewart in the future here from first degree manslaughter – which would need proof that Stewart was intent on harming Ward – to involuntary vehicular manslaughter. Either way, as the investigation is still underway, authorities aren’t saying anything as to which direction they’re leaning.
We want to hear from you guys though – which way are you leaning? The tragic error of an egotistical showoff, or just a tragic accident? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.