WORCESTER, Mass. — A Massachusetts man blamed with causing the death of a state police trooper has been convicted of manslaughter.
David Njuguna was found guilty Tuesday by a judge of involuntary manslaughter in the March 2016 death of Trooper Thomas Clardy.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker cleared Njuguna of OUI manslaughter and felony motor vehicle homicide because prosecutors hadn't proved he was high on pot at the time of the crash.
"There was no evidence that the level of THC found in Mr. Njuguna's blood meant that his ability to operate a vehicle was impaired, expert testimony was required and the Commonwealth provided no such experts," the judge said.
But she did admit that those experts and the science to prove marijuana impairment just does not exist yet.
"Mr. Njuguna was a medical marijuana patient and consumed marijuana regularly – Dr. Nevin reported that a daily user such as a medical patient would have elevated THC levels both active and inactive for several days after use and it cannot be determined from the THC level when the person ingested any marijuana, how much the person ingested and how impaired the person is at any time," she said.
Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Webster man was speeding and high on pot when he struck Clardy's stopped cruiser on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton.
The defendant's lawyers say he had some sort of medical issue that caused a seizure and made him lose control of his vehicle.
Njuguna faces sentencing Nov. 21.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early told Boston 25 News, "I want to thank our prosecutors and the State Police investigative team for their hard work on this case. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Clardy family."
MSP Superintendent Col. Kerry Gilpin sent the following statement after the verdict:
"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 am grateful to District Attorney Early and his staff for their diligent, professional, and compassionate work over the past three years. I would especially like to recognize Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Travers for his painstaking preparation and presentation of the evidence.
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. I wish to recognize members of the Worcester County State Police Detective Unit, MSP Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, MSP Crime Scene Services Section, and patrols from State Police-Charlton. We are thankful also for the tremendous source of support and strength our Employee Assistance Unit has been to Trooper Clardy’s family and Department members impacted by this tragedy.
Trooper Clardy could not have asked for a better team to speak for him.
Today I am also mindful of, grateful for, and touched by the actions of all of the Troopers and other first responders who raced to Tom’s aid on that fateful day. I am thankful, too, for the civilian witnesses who assisted in the aftermath of the crash and who provided important testimony at trial.
There always will be an empty seat at the Clardy’s table, and a hole in the hearts of the Massachusetts State Police. 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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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