Water boils hotter for Gaspar, accused in trooper’s death

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



A re-indictment has upped the heat Joshua Gaspar faces in connection to the death of state trooper Kenneth Velez.

The 37-year-old Columbia Station man was driving without a valid license when he hit and killed Velez last September on I-90 in Lakewood, prosecutors now say.

That increases the degree of the aggravated vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter felony counts with which he is charged, according to Cuyahoga County court records.

Gaspar has also been indicted on counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, tampering with records, driving offenses, and falsification.

He is free on $500,000 bond, subject to GPS monitoring, and cannot leave Cuyahoga or Summit counties.

The latest in a string of pretrial hearings is scheduled for March 16. Gaspar’s trial had been scheduled to begin March 1 but judge Michael Russo granted a continuance.

Velez, 48, was conducting a traffic stop Sept. 15 when Gaspar allegedly struck him.

A resident of Lorain, he was father to two Amherst Steele High School alumni and a current sophomore. Coaches and parents described Velez as being incredibly supportive of his children and the Comets sports teams.

He was memorialized by fans of the green and gold less than 24 hours after his death. His son, defensive middle back Christian Velez, took the football field bearing an American flag and rallied the Comets to a 54-13 victory over the Berea-Midpark Titans, breaking a 15-game losing streak.

Amherst teammates showed solidarity by attending the trooper’s funeral.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.


By Jason Hawk