Daytona Beach, Fla. Dale Earnhardt's widow testified Tuesday that she has tried to stop the public release of her husband's autopsy photos to spare her family "painful emotional distress."
"The photographs are humiliating, disgusting and negative," Teresa Earnhardt said. "That could be nothing but harmful and painful to anyone involved with my family, my company, our fans, anyone."
A hearing into whether the photos can be made public was expected to continue today. A college newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, and a Deland-based Web site are seeking access to the autopsy photos.
Appearing slightly irritated under questioning from opposing lawyers, Earnhardt said she filed a lawsuit blocking the release of the photos to spare her family from "humiliation and harm."
Lawyers for The Alligator have suggested that NASCAR influenced Earnhardt's decision since the images could raise questions about safety at NASCAR races.
Earnhardt denied that NASCAR played a role in her decision. Under questioning, she said she didn't think the photos would show anything that could prevent driver deaths.
She added that her decision had nothing to do with her interest in protecting her company, Dale Earnhardt Inc., and Earnhardt's image as a revenue source.
"I don't think it has anything to do with sales. I think it has to do with personal feelings and privacy," Earnhardt said. "It would affect our state of minds because we would be personally harmed."
An attorney for The Alligator argued that the images should be made public to show whether investigators did an adequate job of determining what killed him.