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Truck driver who pleaded guilty to charges in crash that killed N.H. trooper to serve 1 year in prison

Staff Sgt. Jesse Sherrill was killed in 2021 while working at the site of an overnight paving project

Interstate Crash Trooper

FILE - A likeness of New Hampshire State Police Staff Sgt. Jesse Sherrill appears on a screen, top, during a Celebration of Life service for Sherrill at the SNHU Arena, Nov. 3, 2021, in Manchester, N.H. Jay Medeiros, a Connecticut truck driver will serve at least 12 months behind bars after pleading guilty to charges Friday, Jan 12, 2024, related to a highway crash that killed the New Hampshire state trooper. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)

Steven Senne/AP

By Michael Casey
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. —A Connecticut truck driver will serve at least 12 months behind bars after pleading guilty to charges Friday related to a highway crash that killed a New Hampshire state trooper.

Jay Medeiros, of Ashford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and reckless conduct in the crash that killed Staff Sgt. Jesse Sherrill in fall 2021.

Rockingham County Superior Court Judge David Ruoff acknowledged that Medeiros had taken responsibility for the crash as part of a plea deal, which he said “brings closure to victims.” But he also said this was a difficult case due to the “profound loss” suffered by Sherill’s family and his fellow state troopers, several whom were in the court in uniform.

“No sentence I impose will ever bring him back or fix any of problems that arise in this case,” he said.

Authorities say Medeiros was driving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 in Portsmouth that struck Sherrill’s cruiser while the trooper was working at the site of an overnight paving project.

He will serve 12 months on the negligent homicide charge. A sentence of 3 1/2 to 7 years for felony reckless conduct charge is suspended for 20 years after he is released. If Medeiros violates the terms of his sentence, that sentence would be served consecutively to the 12-month sentence.

Ruoff acknowledged that Medeiros might have faced a much stiffer sentence had he been convicted at trial, though he noted such charges can be difficult to prove in court. Ruoff referenced the case of a commercial truck driver who was found not guilty of causing the deaths of seven motorcyclists in a head-on collision in northern New Hampshire in 2019.

“No one likes plea agreements,” he said, but “what hurts more is, if after a trial from the state’s perspective, the defendant had been outright acquitted.”

“You don’t have to take my word for it,” he said. “All you have to do is go up north and ask the families of those seven victims of that multiple count negligent homicide trial that took place up there a few years. That young man walked of court.”

Medeiros filed an intent to change his plea from not guilty to guilty in November.

Sherrill, a father of two who spent time coaching baseball, had worked in law enforcement in New Hampshire for 20 years. Sherrill, 44, was the 10th State Police trooper killed in the line of duty and the first since Trooper Leslie Lord and Trooper Scott Phillips were killed in 1997.

“No punishment will bring back Staff Sgt. Jesse Sherrill, who epitomized what it is to be a hero. He dedicated his life to being a father, husband, son, brother, friend, coach, mentor, and a New Hampshire State Trooper, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Mark B. Hall said in a statement. “His death was a stark reminder of the dangers that our State Troopers face every day when they put on their uniforms. This avoidable and horrific tragedy did not have to happen.”