Tony Stewart Case Goes To Grand Jury But Indictment Unlikely

A grand jury will hear evidence against Tony Stewart in the death of Kevin Ward Jr., but legal analysts say there isn't a serious push for indictment.
Posted at 9:20 PM, Sep 16, 2014

A grand jury in upstate New York will soon hear the case against NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. 

Stewart faces charges over a widely-publicized incident last month when a car he was driving hit and killed 20-year-old fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a race in Canandaigua, New York.

In a statement, the Ontario County District Attorney's office said, after reviewing the case, it will submit evidence to a grand jury and that the case will be heard "in the near future." 

But the office didn't reveal any details such as potential witnesses, expected testimony or even if it plan to pursue an indictment against Stewart. Legal experts told the media Tuesday's move looks more like a formality than a step toward prosecution.

ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack said the DA's actions don't look like other investigations he's seen.

ESPN LEGAL ANALYST ROGER COSSACK: "Normally, when a player goes before a grand jury, they're looking for an indictment but in this case they're giving mixed signals. ... It may be that he's just taking it to the grand jury to see what the grand jury reacts and for cover." 

And a Chicago defense attorney told NBC the move puts responsibility on the grand jury's shoulders, not the DA's.  “The district attorney wants to make sure that the proverbial I's are dotted and T's are crossed. ... You present the evidence to the grand jury and then the grand jury then makes a determination of whether or not an indictment should be handed down.”

Stewart has gone on record saying he respects the attorney's office decision to forward the case to a grand jury. He's quoted by CBS saying, "I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation."

The three-time NASCAR champion, who chose to sit out his next three races, said he felt deep remorse for the death of the Kevin Ward Jr. when he spoke up about it late last month.

TONY STEWART VIA CNN: "This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with both professionally and personally. And this is something that will definitely affect my life forever."

This video contains images from Getty Images.