Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Caitlyn Jenner, who deputies had said caused a deadly chain-reaction crash on Pacific Coast Highway in February.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office determined that prosecutors would not be able to prove in court that Jenner was responsible for the crash, so they declined to file a misdemeanor manslaughter charge against her.
Prosecutors said Jenner applied her brakes less than two seconds before the crash and was driving slightly below the speed limit.
“Based on facts, cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect's conduct was unreasonable,” prosecutor Patricia Wilkinson wrote in a document declining the case.
Jenner's attorney, Blair Berk, said from the start that she believed a thorough and objective investigation would clear her client of any criminal wrongdoing.
“We are heartened the district attorney has agreed that even a misdemeanor charge would be inappropriate,” she said. “A traffic accident, however devastating and heartbreaking when a life is lost, is not necessarily a criminal matter.”
The decision comes after sheriff’s detectives presented evidence to prosecutors in August, showing Jenner was reportedly driving at an unsafe speed during the crash.
At the time, L.A. County sheriff’s Det. Richard Curry said Jenner was complying with the speed limit but was moving too fast for the road conditions that day.
Jenner was pulling a dune buggy on a trailer and had to suddenly slow as vehicles in front stopped, he said. Jenner’s Cadillac Escalade rear-ended Kim Howe’s Lexus, sending it into oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a Hummer coming in the opposite direction.
Howe, 69, died at the scene.
During the six-month investigation, detectives and the California Highway Patrol reviewed video footage from an MTA bus and photographs from paparazzi. They interviewed those involved, obtained the vehicles’ computers and checked driving and cellphone records. The drivers were not using cellphones at the time of the crash, and investigators have no evidence that Jenner was distracted, Curry said.
Initially, investigators said Howe rear-ended Jessica Steindorff’s Toyota Prius and then Jenner hit Howe’s Lexus. But Steindorff's attorney, Robert Simon, has said Jenner’s SUV hit the Lexus and continued traveling, eventually slamming into Steindorff’s car.
Steindorff was later charged with a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash.
The deadly crash near Corral Canyon Road came before Jenner announced her gender transition. At the time, she was Bruce Jenner, best known as the father figure of the Kardashian family and 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medal winner.
Jenner has called the crash a “devastating tragedy,” saying, “I cannot pretend to imagine what this family is going through at this time. I am praying for them.” Steindorff’s and Howe’s families separately are suing Jenner, alleging that she was negligent.
“The D.A.’s decision not to pursue criminal charges places even more importance on our clients’ lawsuit,” said Jeffrey D. Wolf, attorney for Howe’s family. Wolf contended that Jenner’s inattentive driving caused the fatal crash.
“Now, ultimately a jury trial in this civil case is the only way to hold Ms. Jenner accountable for causing Kim Howe’s death,” he said. “We are going to continue our efforts to ensure that justice is served.”
For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.