LOS ANGELES – Bruce Jenner could be in big trouble following a car crash in Malibu that left one woman dead, but legal pros say it may be a civil suit, not criminal charges, that is Jenner's likeliest scenario.
“The bottom line is that charges most likely will not be filed, if they are filed, Jenner will avoid prison and most likely be granted probation with no jail time,” California-based criminal defense attorney R.J Manuelian told FOX411. “However, Jenner's biggest worry should be the wrongful death lawsuit, which will be filed soon enough, and will reach deep into his pockets if his insurance doesn't cover his tab.”
Video taken by cameras on a nearby MTA bus and another taken from a gas station emerged this week that reportedly show the former Olympic gold medal winner turned reality star started the chain-reaction crash on Feb 7. According to the Associated Press, Jenner was hauling an off road vehicle on a trailer behind his Cadillac Escalade when he steered to avoid cars slowing for a traffic light in front of him, his SUV rear-ending a Prius, which then hit a Lexus, propelling the Lexus into oncoming traffic. The 69-year-old driver, Kim Howe, was struck head-on by a Hummer and killed.
An LAPD homicide detective, who was not authorized to speak on the subject, told FOX411 the case is in the hands of the District Attorney, but agreed that criminal manslaughter charges against Jenner would likely “be a stretch.”
“It would have to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was negligent,” said the source. “Just because he rear-ended someone, its usually considered an accident. But, the stretch would be that he was inattentive and violated the vehicle code of following too close. I’m sure they checked his phone to see if he was texting, which would also be considered negligence.”
Manuelian outlined the possible criminal case scenarios.
“If there is such evidence that he was driving with ‘gross negligence’ or ‘ordinary negligence’ he can be charged with either a misdemeanor -- punishable up to 1 year in jail -- or a felony under Penal Code Section 190(c)(1) and can be sentenced to a maximum of six years,” Manuelian said. “But this is not likely at all given it is Jenner's first brush with the law."
Investigators have reportedly sought cellphone records to determine whether any of the drivers involved were distracted, but the video reportedly shows that Jenner was not using his phone at the time of the incident.
Jenner’s publicist Alan Nierob and his attorney Blair Berk did not respond to requests for comment.
Radar Online reported Thursday that the Los Angeles County District Attorney has requested that police investigators turn over their findings, suggesting that the case is being taken very seriously, and being handled by the Major Crimes division, the most elite branch of the DA’s office.
The DA’s office did not immediately return calls for comment.