Prosecutor: Cheney could face grand jury investigation if victim dies

Harry Whittington's wounds aren't said to be life-threatening -- but what if they are?

Published February 15, 2006 5:28AM (EST)

The heart troubles facing Harry Whittington are said not to be life-threatening, but what if they are? If the 78-year-old lawyer dies of the wounds he suffered when he was shot by Dick Cheney, the vice president would likely face a greater degree of legal scrutiny than that to which he has been subjected so far, the New York Times is reporting.

Kleberg County District Attorney Carlos Valdez tells the Times that the death of Cheney's victim would prompt a new report from the local sheriff and, probably, a grand jury investigation. "The victim probably told the sheriff's department it was an accident," Valdez says. "Now, if the worst happens and the man happens to die, we would take an additional step."

As the Times explains, "even an accidental hunting fatality" can lead to criminal charges if prosecutors or a grand jury believed that Cheney acted negligently in turning to shoot at a bird in flight without noticing first that Whittington was in his line of fire.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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