The driver accused of hitting and killing a state trooper three years ago will face a judge Monday at Worcester Superior Court.
David Njuguna was reportedly under the influence of marijuana while driving on the Mass. Pike when he hit trooper Thomas Clardy's cruiser on the side of the highway, who was conducting a traffic stop.
It's likely that state troopers will be at court to make sure justice is served for the man who they believe took the life of one of their own.
"The defense wants [a bench trial] because they want to take away the emotions and the passions that are perceived to be a part of the jury," said Brad Bailey, a former state and federal prosecutor and longtime criminal defense attorney.
"12 citizens looking at a case in which a state trooper, who was doing his job, who had pulled a car to the side of the highway, was crashed into from behind and killed,"
According to Bailey, much of the testimony will revolve around whether the prosecution can prove that Njuguna was high on marijuana. Not just whether it was in his system, like the blood work reportedly showed.
"The state is going to come in with evidence that he was going 80 miles an hour, that he was observed to be driving erratically, that there was a strong odor of marijuana on this person, that he was [in] possession of marijuana cigarettes," Bailey said.
Bailey also believes the defense will argue that Njuguna had a medical emergency at the time he hit Clardy. But even if true, Bailey said prosecutors could argue Njuguna should not have been driving.
"That's a very dangerous defense in some instances because, in many cases, people are told by their doctors or warned by their doctors, you should not operate a car under these circumstances, given your condition, you should not be driving," he said.
Bailey said the trial could last one week or longer, with a possible sentence ranging tremendously on what convictions, if any, the driver will face.
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