WORCESTER (CBS/AP) – The driver convicted in the death of a Massachusetts State Police Trooper was sentenced Thursday afternoon after family members gave emotional victim impact statements. David Njuguna was sentenced to 5-7 years for causing Trooper Thomas Clardy’s death in March 2016.
Njuguna, 33, of Webster, was found guilty November 12 in Worcester Superior Court of involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide, and operating to endanger in the crash that killed Clardy.
Njuguna’s car slammed into the back of the Clardy’s cruiser, which was parked during a traffic stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton. Prosecutors said Njuguna was speeding and high on marijuana at the time of the crash.
Prosecutors sought 10-12 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter, saying it reflects “high degree of recklessness.”
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker opted to sentence Njuguna to 5-7 years instead.
Njuguna waived his right to a jury, leaving Kenton-Walker to preside over the 7-day trial. She cleared Njuguna of OUI manslaughter and felony motor vehicle homicide because prosecutors did not prove he was high.
Clardy was 44 years old and an 11-year veteran of the State Police. He was married and the father of seven children.
Several people read victim impact statements before Njuguna, including Trooper Clardy’s wife Reisa.
“On March 16, 2016, I kissed my husband goodbye, told him I loved him and watched him back out of the driveway not knowing it would be the last time I would see him,” Reisa Clardy told the court. “An hour later, because of a selfish and senseless act, his life was cut short. The life of a wonderful man who had so much more life to live was taken abruptly. That day I was told my husband was killed was the day my life stood still.”
Gabriella Clardy, one of Troper Clardy’s children, began to give a victim impact statement. She was 14 years old when her father was killed. After she broke into tears, Gabriella’s brother Tyler took over and finished her statement.
“I ask myself every day, how is it possible that one day my father was here, and now, he is gone forever?” Gabriella’s statement concluded.
A defense attorney apologized to the Clardy family on behalf of Njuguna before addressing the judge.
“It’s tragic for David Njuguna as well,” Njuguna’s attorney said before adding, “No one here can say anything bad about Tom Clardy other than that he was a really good man and he did not deserve to die.”
Massachusetts State Police Superintendent Christopher Mason released a statement Thursday afternoon.
“First and foremost, we are painfully cognizant that no sentence can return Trooper Clardy to those who loved him and love him still. This loss can never be restored, and everyone who loved or worked with Tom would prefer that the law allow for a sentence much more commensurate with the taking of a life under these circumstances,” Mason said in the statement. “As we move forward, we continue to look toward and be guided by Tom’s example as a family man and a Massachusetts State Trooper, and our thoughts and hearts are, as ever, with his loved ones.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)