How the Court Ruled Against Kurt Busch

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Feb 21, 2015; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR fans hold up signs supporting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch during his hearing at NASCAR offices. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Important witnesses and their credibility

Witnesses testified for both parties, but few were considered persuasive.  Driscoll’s neighbor, Waleska Rodriguez, most obviously supported Driscoll.

  • Rodriguez backed Driscoll’s account of what happened when she returned home on the night of the incident.  She documented Driscoll’s injuries and how they changed (following the expected pattern for strangulation) and explained how Driscoll had to alter her life in response to her fear of Busch (i.e. changing her locks, adding video surveillance).
  • She also suggested Busch changes into someone else when he is not successful on the track.
  • The Commissioner found Rodriguez’ command of English to get in the way of some of her testimony, though what was noted from it matched Driscoll’s version of events.

Busch’s bus driver, Mike Doncheff, was another prominent witness.

  • Doncheff admitted that he encouraged Driscoll to go to Dover and to bring her son.  He was worried by the messages Busch had texted her.
  • Driscoll informed Doncheff of the incident, and Doncheff believed her because of her emotion when recounting the events.
  • He did not believe Driscoll was an assassin, but had been told by her that she was.
  • Doncheff had witnessed Busch lose control of his emotions when his racing was not going well, resulting in verbal outbursts and/or destruction of objects.
  • Because Doncheff is a paid employee of Busch, the court was skeptical of his testimony against Driscoll (in regards to her claiming to be an assassin).

Another of Busch’s witnesses, Kristy Cloutier, is the driver’s assistant.

  • Cloutier claims that while Busch gets angry and has damaged objects, he would not touch another person.
  • Though Busch took a swing at Cloutier while the two attended a baseball game, Cloutier believes alcohol was the sole factor in the incident, and it was not something he would do here, where alcohol consumption is not alleged.
  • As with Doncheff, Cloutier’s testimony is discredited by her employment to Busch.

Nick Terry, a chaplain in the paddock with Motor Racing Outreach, gave credible testimony.  Most notably:

  • He and his wife did not see any visible injuries to Driscoll.
  • They did, however, treat Driscoll with pain relief medication and a bag of frozen peas to dull the pain she expressed feeling.
  • Terry’s account mostly matched Driscoll’s in terms of her emotional state and her request to be checked for injury.  When Terry offered to call the police, Driscoll mentioned her custody battle over her son as the reason she could not do that.

One of the first people Driscoll called, Richard Andrew Sniffen, provided unusual remarks in the Commissioner’s eyes.

  • Sniffen seemed entirely unable to recall what Driscoll had said to him in September and into October, the times closest to the incident and those prior to when Driscoll went to the police.
  • However, Sniffen could remember clearly their alleged conversations after a vacation period in which Sniffen did not talk to Driscoll, raising suspicions as to why Sniffen’s memory had been so poor of events weeks before, but so clear for those shortly subsequent.
  • Sniffen claimed that Driscoll sought revenge, and was the only witness who did so.  His testimony was disregarded because of the odd manner of recollection and because many other witnesses, including Doncheff, provided evidence that Driscoll’s motive at the time of the incident (the only legally relevant time) was to help Busch through what she perceived as problems.
  • When Driscoll found out Sniffen was testifying, she texted her confusion to him, claiming she had never said the things Sniffen was to contend she told him.  Sniffen did not reply to that text.

Finally, Charis Burrett, who testified about Driscoll being an assassin, was dubious to the Commissioner as she, too, stood to profit from Busch clearing his name as a business partner in making Kurt Busch t-shirts.