Driver in Mass. trooper death gets probation

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BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) — A Wayland man was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide in connection with a drunken driving crash in 2003 that resulted in the death of a state trooper years later.

The driver, William Senne, 29, was also sentenced to 500 hours of community service at a facility that treats people with brain injuries and lost his license for 15 years.

Senne pleaded guilty in 2005 to drunken driving for the crash in Wareham that left Trooper Ellen Engelhardt with severe brain damage. He was 18 at the time. Engelhardt was pulled over in the breakdown lane of Route 25 with her blue lights on while investigating an earlier crash and Senne was driving 100 mph, according to prosecutors.

Senne spent more than two years in jail.

Engelhardt received specialized care until she died in 2011 at age 58, and Senne was charged with motor vehicle homicide.

Engelhardt was one of the first women hired as a state trooper in Massachusetts and the first female trooper to die as a result of her professional duties.

Plymouth District Attorney Tim Cruz wanted Senne to spend another four or five years in jail, even though Engelhardt’s family did not want him to serve more time.

“We recommended that he go back to jail,” Cruz said, citing other driving offenses, including speeding. “The judge made a determination based on the young man’s history, and he has been out of jail.”

Col. Timothy Alben, superintendent of the Massachusetts state police, said those working for his agency appreciate the Cruz’s efforts to hold Senne accountable under the law.

“That said, we respect the judicial process,” Alben said. “We hope, most of all, that the Engelhardt family finds solace in their warm memories of Ellen and in the stellar regard with which her memory is held throughout the Massachusetts State Police. Her sacrifice in the line of duty will forever be in our minds, and we will always grieve for her loss.”

Senne, who has built his own business since his release, said in a statement he is “deeply remorseful.”

“(Senne) is firmly committed to being a productive member of society and will continue to grow his business, support charitable organizations and be a positive influence on his family and friends,” the statement said.

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