Official Statement from Ontario Co. NY District Attorney:
“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
Statement from Tony Stewart
The following is a statement from Tony Stewart regarding the decision by the Office of the Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney to send the case of the tragic accident involving Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park to a grand jury.
“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.”
Source: PR from SHR/True Speed Communication
So what exactly is a grand jury?
According to a handbook provided by New York’s court system, a grand jury is established as the authority that decides whether someone should be formally accused of a crime. Seated as a cross-section of the community, the grand jury is designed to uphold laws “by indicting those individuals believed to have committed crimes and to protect the rights of others against unfounded accusations.” According to the New York constitution, no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on indictment of a grand jury. In New York, a grand jury consists of 23 jurors and no alternatives.
What does a grand jury do?
A grand jury decides only whether a person should be charged with a crime (based on evidence presented and the law). A trial jury decides the person’s guilt.
In New York, the grand jury has three options:
–Voting in favor of an indictment
–Voting to dismiss the charges
–Directing the prosecutor to file information accusing the person of an offense less serious than a felony.
To formally charge an accused person with a crime, 12 grand jurors who heard all the essential and critical evidence must agree there is legally sufficient evidence and reasonable cause that a crime was committed. At least 16 grand jurors must be present for a quorum.
Source: New York State Unified Court System Grand Juror’s Handbook / USA TODAY
NASCAR Statement from Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Regarding Announcement of Ontario (N.Y.) County District Attorney
“We are aware of the completed investigation and the announced next steps. First, our thoughts continue to be with all who have been impacted by this tragedy. We will monitor this process and stay in close contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment on this case so we will continue to respect the process and authorities involved.”
Tony Stewart is reported to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race in Loudon, NH this weekend.