WORCESTER (CBS) – A verdict was delivered Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a driver charged in the death of a Massachusetts State Trooper. Worcester Superior Court Judge Janet Kenton-Walker found 33-year-old David Njuguna guilty of involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide, and operating to endanger.
“This was not an accident as defined under the law,” said Kenton-Walker.
Prosecutors said Njuguna of Webster was speeding when he crashed into the back of Trooper Thomas Clardy’s parked cruiser on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton on March 16, 2016. They also said marijuana was found in his car and THC was found in blood samples taken from him roughly an hour after the crash.
Njuguna was indicted on six charges total. He was found guilty of operating an uninsured vehicle but not guilty of OUI manslaughter and felony motor vehicle homicide. His bail was revoked.
Kenton-Walker says she has made her decision entirely on the evidence and the law which included 26 witnesses and 108 exhibits. #WBZ
— Louisa Moller (@LouisaMoller) November 12, 2019
“Mr. Njuguna drove at excessive speeds, tailgated at excessive speed, passed vehicles and attempted to pass vehicles in an extremely dangerous manner by passing too closely and weaving in and out. He continued to speed and then pass other vehicles with conscious disregard to obvious hazards, including Trooper Clardy’s cruiser with its flashing blue lights. Without slowing down or signaling, Mr. Njuguna recklessly crossed three lanes of traffic at 80 miles per hour all the way into the breakdown lane and at 80 miles per hour, crashed into the back of the cruiser,” said Kenton-Walker.
Njuguna waived his right to a jury, leaving Kenton-Walker to preside over the 7-day trial.
During closing arguments on October 29, Njuguna’s attorney Peter Ettenberg said a seizure could not be ruled out as the cause of the crash.
Those closing arguments were delayed after Njuguna had an outburst in court, apologized to Clardy’s widow and then ignored the judge’s order to stop talking.
Kenton-Walker told Njuguna she would not accept his statement because he wasn’t under oath.
Ettenberg and co-counsel Jaclyn Rose Greenhalgh then withdrew from the case November 4, citing a breakdown in their relationship with their client.
Clardy was 44 years old and an 11-year veteran of State Police. He left behind his wife and seven children.
Njuguna will be sentenced on Nov. 21.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. tweeted a short statement, saying: “I want to thank our prosecutors and the State Police investigate team for their hard work on this case. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Clardy family.”
A statement from Mass. State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin said in part:
“While today’s verdict ends the criminal proceedings related to Trooper Thomas Clardy’s line-of-duty death, it does not end the pain or restore the loss that Tom’s wife and children, and his parents and other loved ones, still, and always will, endure. Our thoughts, first and foremost, are with them today, as they have been since the terrible events of March 16, 2016. We thank the court for carefully considering and weighing the evidence in its totality, for its careful deliberation, and for reaching a just decision…I also thank the numerous Massachusetts State Troopers who undertook — with professionalism, integrity, and dedication — one of the most difficult types of investigations a police officer can ever be called upon to perform, the death of a colleague…Trooper Clardy could not have asked for a better team to speak for him.”