These cops showed up to honor their fallen brother. But a judge wouldn’t allow it.
In a case that tore apart a family in Worcester, Massachusetts, a verdict was just handed down in the March 16, 2016 death of Thomas Clardy. Thomas Clardy was a Massachusetts State Trooper who was stopped in the breakdown lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton while performing a traffic stop. Despite full lights being displayed during the entirety of the traffic stop, driver David Njuguna crashed into the rear of the trooper’s vehicle at 80 mph, killing Clardy.
Njuguna had opted to waive his right to a jury trial, so in this case the prosecution was tasked with making their case solely for the judge’s interpretation of the evidence. Prosecutors said Njuguna was speeding and high on marijuana that day, when he struck Trooper Thomas Clardy’s stopped cruiser on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton.
The defense argued that Njuguna had some sort of medical issue that caused a seizure and made him lose control of his vehicle.
However, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker was not devoted to either presented theory of what led to the events that occurred that day; instead, she drew her own conclusions that rested somewhere in the middle of the potential scenarios.
After taking in all the presented evidence into account, the judge addressed their findings.
“Mr. Njuguna drove at excessive speeds, tailgated at excessive speeds, passed vehicles and attempted to pass vehicles in an extremely dangerous manner by passing too closely and weaving in and out,” the judge reportedly said. “He continued to speed and then pass other vehicles with conscious disregard to obvious hazards including Trooper Clardy’s cruiser with flashing blue lights. Without slowing down or signaling, Mr. Njuguna recklessly crossed three lanes of traffic at 80 mph all the way into the breakdown lane and at 80 mph crashed into the back of the cruiser. I find therefore that he operated his vehicle in a reckless manner and therefore also in a negligent way.”
Judge Kenton-Walker found Njuguna guilty on four of the six counts, but acquitted him on the charges of manslaughter while operating under the influence and also felony motor vehicle homicide. The judge cited a lack of evidence regarding the two dismissed charges.
“The fact that Mr. Njuguna consumed some marijuana prior to the crash does not mean that he was intoxicated.”
David Njuguna’s verdict is scheduled to be issued at 3pm today by Judge Janet Kenton-Walker. @MassStatePolice troopers are beginning to fill the hallway outside the 4th floor courtroom in Worcester. pic.twitter.com/mTs8zvKLLZ
— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) November 12, 2019
Still, the judge found Njuguna guilty of involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide, operating an uninsured vehicle, and also operating to endanger. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on November 21.
During the reading of the verdict, dozens of uniformed state troopers lined up outside the courtroom to pay homage to their fellow, fallen trooper. Judge Kenton-Walker barred any uniformed troopers from entering the courtroom as she delivered her split verdict for the man charged in trooper Thomas Clardy’s death. The order delivered by the judge in this case has caused some concern from the State Police Association of Massachusetts, as a union spokesperson stated.
“We are concerned with the decision to bar uniformed troopers from entering a public courtroom during this jury-waived trial.”
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The judge in this case was cognizant of the critics she had attracted in the order she made barring uniformed troopers from entering the court, and had insisted “that ruling was not made in disrespect.”
“This court is a neutral place and impartial at all times. The neutrality must be embodied in the courtroom itself… to a fair and impartial trial and a neutral tribunal.”
A number of troopers gathered around a phone to hear a live-stream at the verdict’s climax — when Kenton-Walker ruled David Njuguna was guilty of some counts, but not guilty of others. One trooper put her hand on another’s shoulder as they listened to the judge read her ruling. As Clardy’s wife and children stepped out of the courtroom, the troopers stood at attention.
Troopers who were present had declined to speak to reporters.
Today, Worcester Superior Court Judge Janet Kenton-Walker is going to deliver the verdict in the trial of David Njuguna, the man accused of driving high in a 2016 crash that killed Mass. State Police Trooper Thomas Clardy https://t.co/nkSn7sQef1
— Melissa Hanson (@Melissa__Hanson) November 12, 2019
Judge Kenton-Walker has a history of claiming a lack of proof when cases are presented for prosecution. Earlier this year, she had cleared Erika Murray of any charges related to murder or homicide, despite her having the carcasses of three of her children stuffed into a closet of what became infamously known as the “Blackstone House of Horrors”. During that case, she stated that prosecutors failed to prove she had caused the death of any of three dead babies found inside her filthy home.
— ABC6 News Desk (@ABC6) November 7, 2014
While some justice was served in court, it’s a shame that the judge assumed that uniformed troopers there to honor their fallen brother would somehow disrupt the impartiality of the court’s process. To this writer, that concept is complete nonsense.
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