David Njuguna. (Kendall Buhl/WBZ NewsRadio)
WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The man who struck and killed Massachusetts State Police Trooper Thomas Clardy three years ago has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
In a courtroom packed with Clardy's family members and State Troopers, David Njuguna, 33 of Webster lowered his head to his chin as the verdict was read in Worcester Superior Court.
Prosecutors claimed Njuguna was high when he struck Trooper Clardy's cruiser on the Mass Pike in Charlton on March 16, 2016, killing him. Clardy's defense claimed it was a medical emergency, and not marijuana, that caused Njuguna to speed and crash into Clardy's cruiser.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker said in court Tuesday she was "convinced" that Njuguna had operated his vehicle recklessly, and he was found guilty of several motor vehicle violations.
"With either indifference to or in disregard of the grave risk of harm to others on the road, 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," she said. "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."
However, Kenton-Walker acquitted Njuguna of the charge of felony motor vehicle homicide, saying there was not enough evidence to determine if he was high at the time of the crash.
In a statement after the verdict was read, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early thanked prosecutors and State Police investigators for their work on the case.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Clardy family," he wrote.
Departing Mass. State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin thanked the court in a statement for "carefully considering and weighing the evidence in its totality, for its careful deliberation, and for reaching a just decision."
"There always will be an empty seat at the Clardy’s table, and a hole in the hearts of the Massachusetts State Police," Gilpin wrote. "This verdict cannot bring Trooper Clardy back to his family, friends, and colleagues, but it does provide some sense of justice by holding the defendant accountable for his actions that day."
Two weeks ago, Njuguna made an outburst in court in which he repeatedly apologized to Clardy's widow. A week later, he made the unusual move of dismissing his lawyers after closing arguments had been made, but before a verdict.
The case was decided solely by Judge Kenton-Walker after Njuguna waived his right to a trial by jury.
WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports