NASCAR racing star Tony Stewart has only issued comments regarding the Saturday race-track death of Kevin Ward Jr. through prepared statements.
“That is absolutely the correct way for Stewart to handle things,” said Michael White, a criminal defense attorney with offices in Killeen and Temple.
“There will be issues involved in a civil suit,” White said. “As for criminal charges, that’s another matter. Was there recorded communication between Stewart and his pit crew?
“If I was his attorney, yes, I would only allow prepared statements.”
White is a NASCAR fan.
“I’ve gone to a lot of NASCAR races and sometimes you can tune into the conversations between the racer and the crew,” White said. “If there was any type of suggestion by Stewart to his crew that he wanted to send a message to Ward — just to scare him — that’s enough to bring a criminal charge.
“What was Stewart’s intent? For a murder charge, you must have intent to kill. If Stewart wanted to intimidate Ward, that would be cause enough for a felony assault charge. If I was Tony Stewart, I’d be concerned if there was any chatter between him and his crew.”
Stewart is known for possessing a race-track temper.
“A problem Tony has is his past can influence with regard to charges,” White said. “He’s thrown his helmet at another driver. He has used his car to send a message.
“Again, I think there will be issues involving a civil suit. But I don’t think there’s enough to charge Stewart with a felony assault. Since Ward walked from his vehicle across the track, that puts the risk on Mr. Ward’s part.
“Of course that can all change if the chatter between Stewart and his crew ever comes out.”