Trial begins for man accused of causing crash that killed Massachusetts state trooper

WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Attorneys for a man accused of causing a crash on the Massachusetts Turnpike that killed a state trooper in 2016 say he was suffering from a medical incident, but prosecutors are arguing he was impaired by marijuana as his trial began in Worcester Monday.

David Njuguna, 30, is facing a number of charges in the death of 44-year-old trooper Thomas Clardy.

Authorities say Clardy had stopped a car for a traffic violation when his cruiser was hit by Njuguna’s vehicle in Charlton on the Mass Pike on March 16, 2016. Njuguna, who was returning from a medicinal marijuana dispensary, allegedly had THC in his system when he crashed into the cruiser.

The case is being heard by a judge instead of a jury. Defense attorneys said they want the case decided on the law, and not affected by sympathy and the sight of numerous troopers in the courtroom.

Prosecutors called Reisa Clardy, the widow of Thomas Clardy, to the stand and said Njuguna was impaired by marijuana and acted in a wanton and reckless manner when he allegedly crossed three lanes on the pike going 81 miles an hour and hit Clardy’s cruiser.

“You’ll hear that a search of that vehicle located a substantially burned marijuana joint on the passenger floor of that vehicle,” said prosecutor Jeff Travers.

Defense attorney Peter Ettenberg, however, says Njuguna was not impaired by marijuana, but suffered a medical event that caused him to swerve into Clardy.

“David Njuguna likely suffered a seizure at the time of the accident,” Ettenberg said, adding that Njuguna would not take the stand and had no memory of the crash.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)