The man who killed Ohio state trooper Kenneth Velez is not guilty of murder, a Cuyahoga County jury found Thursday.
Joshua Gaspar, 38, of Columbia Station, was acquitted of aggravated homicide, vehicular homicide, and vehicular manslaughter.
Nor was he drunk or high behind the wheel last Sept. 15 when he swerved and fatally struck Velez, a career trooper who was conducting a roadside stop on I-90 in Lakewood.
Gaspar was on methadone to fight an addiction to painkillers, but his defense argued it did not impair his ability to drive and in fact wasn’t in his system when examined the day after the deadly crash.
Jurors heard 12 days of arguments, then deliberated for hours before returning a verdict.
While Gaspar was cleared of the most serious charges, the jury said he was guilty of lesser ones.
He’ll be sentenced at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 on convictions of traffic offenses and tampering with records, which entailed lying to get an Ohio driver’s license.
Velez, of Lorain, was the father of three, including Amherst Steele High School student Christian Velez. His other two children, Devin and Andria, are Steele alumni.
“We’re all going to miss him,” said Christian at his father’s funeral last year. “I know that we’ll see him again someday.”
A graduate of the 118th academy class for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Velez served 30 years as a state trooper.
He started at the Canfield patrol post and spent the bulk of his career in Elyria. He also spent time on the License and Commercial Standards Motor Vehicle Inspection Team in Seville.
At the time of his death, Velez had just transferred to the Cleveland post.