Despite her incriminating statements after a car crash in November, Nancy Irsay will not be punished for leaving the scene of the accident.
Hamilton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Barbara J. Trathen has dropped the case against the widow of former Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay. Trathen sought the dismissal after reviewing legal arguments by defense attorneys Eric J. Benner and Scott C. Newman, a new member of Irsay’s legal team and Trathen’s boss when he was Marion County prosecutor and she was one of his deputies.
Irsay, 55, was charged with leaving the scene of the accident at her home on Nov. 8, 2005. Carmel police sent to the 1300 block of W. 116th Street had found her BMW sport utility vehicle at the end of the driveway. Its bumper had been torn off when it entered the roadway and hit a passing truck about 2 p.m.
Initially, Carmel police said, a man in Irsay's employ claimed to have been driving the BMW. About an hour after their arrival, after witnesses had told investigators that a woman was driving, investigators located Irsay and began to question her.
Irsay, who was facing a pending drunken-driving prosecution in Marion County, admitted that she was the driver only after one officer told her that her driver’s license was valid. She said then she would not have left the accident scene if she had known her license was valid, prosecuting and defense attorneys agree.
Benner and Newman claimed Irsay’s admissions are inadmissable, however. They contend the statements were solicited in violation of her Fifth Amendment defense against self-incrimination and before being advised of her Miranda rights as a suspect entitled to legal counsel and a warning that anything she said could be used against her.Defense attorneys also argued that the case should be dismissed because there was no damage to the truck that would require Irsay to remain at the scene, and because her driveway was part of the scene.
Now let's get this straight. There were eyewitness accounts of Irsay hitting the truck while behind the wheel of her BMW, and then leaving the scene of the accident. Why do you even need her own admissions to prosecute her when you have eyewitness evidence from others that she committed the crime? Note that both Trathen and her boss, Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, were out of town and unavailable for comment. And who said our criminal justice system isn't fair?