Indicted drag racer contends misconduct by DA - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Indicted drag racer contends misconduct by DA

A court filing by a professional drag racer indicted in a charity exhibition crash that killed six people last summer accuses a West Tennessee prosecutor of misconduct and asks to have the charges dropped.

The motion accuses District Attorney General Michael Dunavant of threatening to indict Selmer's police chief, who testified at a March 20 bond hearing for the driver, Troy Critchley.

The 38-year-old Critchley is charged with six counts of vehicular homicide due to recklessness and 22 counts of reckless aggravated assault in the June 16, 2007, crash in Selmer.

The motion requesting dismissal of the indictment claims Dunavant, after the bond hearing, made comments intended "to threaten Chief Burks with indictment due to his testifying truthfully for Mr. Critchley."

Attorney Robert Hutton of Memphis, declined comment Thursday about his filings on Critchley's behalf, other than to say they will be discussed in court at an Aug. 15 hearing. Dunavant and Selmer Police Chief Neil Burks did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

The Australian-born Critchley, who now lives in Texas, is free on a $35,000 bond.

Burks testified at the bond hearing that the Cars for Kids exhibition "burnout" was organized and handled the same as in previous years. He said people were asked to step back from the street.

A burnout does not involve fast speed "but rather to proceed along the road with tires smoking and the engine revving," the dismissal motion says. It says firefighters hosed the street to help provide the tire spin needed and police positioned spectators.

Hutton has also filed notice with the court that he intends to use a defense known as "entrapment by estoppel," which means government officials allowed the burnout to happen.

Numerous lawsuits on behalf of victims' families and people injured are pending, including some seeking damages from the city.

"All of this conduct gave the clear indication that the government sanctioned and promoted the very conduct for which the state is now seeking to criminally prosecute Mr. Critchley," Hutton's motions show.

"Critchley was strapped in his Corvette drag car, positioned at the starting point, and given the signal by officials to start the burnout. While performing the exhibition burnout, Critchley's vehicle tragically and inexplicably lunged left towards the crowd causing horrible injuries" the filings contend.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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