LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Olympic champion and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner will not be charged in connection with a crash in Malibu earlier this year that killed a 69-year-old woman, Los Angeles prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Based on the facts in the case, prosecutors lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Jenner’s conduct was unreasonable, according to documents provided by Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
“We believed from the start that a thorough and objective investigation would clear Caitlyn of any criminal wrongdoing. We are heartened the District Attorney has agreed that even a misdemeanor charge would be inappropriate,” Jenner’s attorney, Blair Berk, said in a written statement.
Jenner, 65, was driving a Cadillac Escalade along Pacific Coast Highway and towing a trailer carrying a dune buggy when she slammed into two other cars, according to authorities.
During the crash, a white Lexus being driven by 69-year-old Kim Howe was shoved by Jenner’s sport-utility vehicle across a center divider and into oncoming traffic, where it was struck head-on by a Hummer.
Howe was killed in the collision and Jessica Steindorff, who was driving a black Toyota Prius also rear-ended by Jenner, was injured. Jenner escaped serious injury in the crash.
According to a summary of the investigation released by the district attorney’s office, Jenner was driving slightly below the speed limit and “minimally slower than the victim” and braked 1.9 to 1.5 seconds before the collision.
The summary said that the only possible violation against Jenner would be a “violation of the basic speed law,” meaning too fast for the conditions.
But, prosecutors said in the document, “crime also requires ordinary negligence. Based on facts, cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect’s conduct was unreasonable.”
Reasonable doubt is the standard required in California, and in most U.S. courts, to prove a defendant guilty of a crime.Both Steindorff and Howe’s stepchildren family have sued Jenner, who was known as Bruce Jenner at the time of the crash and rose to fame with a record-breaking Olympic gold medal victory in the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal.
Civil cases typically require a lesser burden of proof than criminal courts.
“The DA’s decision not to pursue criminal charges places even more importance on our clients’ lawsuit. It is abundantly clear is that Ms. Jenner’s inattentive driving caused this rear-end collision that resulted in Ms. Howe’s death,” Jeffrey Wolf, an attorney for Howe’s family, said in a written statement.
“Now, ultimately a jury trial in this civil case is the only way to hold Ms. Jenner accountable for causing Kim Howe’s death. We are going to continue our efforts to ensure that justice is served,” Wolf said.
Bruce Jenner was known to younger generations as the patriarch of reality TV’s Kardashian clan before announcing in a nationally televised interview in April that he was transgender.
Caitlyn Jenner is now the star of her own reality TV show, “I Am Cait,” centered on her transition.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler