Uvalde County grand jury begins reviewing New Braunfels church bus fatalities

For those who lost loved ones and church members, they are seeking justice, the Uvalde County Grand Jury has the power to start that process.

UVALDE COUNTY, Texas - A grand jury heard the case against Jack Dillon Young Monday, regarding whether he should be held criminally responsible for the deaths of 13 people killed in a church bus crash in late March.

Young could face multiple charges of vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. The charges seek to punish those who are speeding, intoxicated or whose actions are negligent at the time of an accident where another motorist, passenger or pedestrian is killed.

The Uvalde County District Attorney's Office confirmed a grand jury did hear the case, however, no information was released Monday as to whether Young will be indicted. It was not immediately clear where the grand jury is in the process.

According to investigators, Young was driving a pickup truck that crashed into a church bus en route from a retreat. Thirteen people were killed in the deadly crash near Garner State Park. The victims were members of First Baptist Church in New Braunfels.

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A National Transportation Safety Board investigation said Young admitted he was texting and on prescription drugs at the time of the crash. Investigators said the medication and marijuana were found in the suspect's truck.

Young has not been arrested in the case. That could change with the grand jury's decision.

"Any prosecuting attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich because the grand jurors are very dependent on the prosecuting attorney that is assigned to them," Geary Reamey said.

Reamey is a law professor at  St. Mary's University school of Law and explained the grand jury's job is to investigate crimes within its district.

The proceedings are secret and grand jurors impanel for up to six months and can hear multiple cases, he said.

The group has the power to subpoena witnesses and evidence as the state makes its case for an indictment.

"In a case like this, you would expect to have a considerable amount of documentary evidence based on the forensics that were found at the scene of this accident," Reamey said.

The professor said the grand jury's investigation is a one-sided affair where the Uvalde District Attorney's Office presents evidence. Reamey said grand juries, generally, do what is recommended by the DA's office.

The group does have the power to act independently from the information presented to them.

Young can be called as a witness by the grand jury. Such an act is unlikely, Reamey said, because the suspect can not have an attorney present. Young can not present evidence in his favor.

Ultimately, the grand jury can indict Young, return a "no bill" which clears the suspect or continue to investigate the case.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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