Pajak Pleads No Contest To Manslaughter In State Trooper’s Death
By Christine Dempsey, cdempseycourant.com
The Hartford Courant
The Enfield man who drove his pickup truck into Trooper Kenneth Hall’s patrol car on Sept. 2, fatally injuring him, pleaded no contest Monday to manslaughter and assault.
Michael Pajak, 33, faces up to 14 years in prison at his sentencing on Aug. 29. He pleaded no contest to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault with a motor vehicle in Superior Court in Hartford.
Pajak received the plea offer from Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy last week, and his lawyer, public defender William O’Connor, told Judge David P. Gold that Pajak would need only a week to consider the deal.
Pajak was originally charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, misconduct with a motor vehicle, and drunken driving.
According to the warrant for his arrest, Pajak was sluggish as he sped north on I-91 the afternoon of Sept. 2. He’d spent days snorting heroin and cocaine and popping sedatives and amphetamines. His friends told investigators later that Pajak was so doped up he kept falling asleep, according to the warrant.
His Dodge Ram pickup truck was going 87 mph when it struck Hall’s car, which was off to the side of the road behind a pickup truck Hall had pulled over. Hall’s car was unrecognizable as a result of the impact.
Pajak admitted to a Massachusetts state trooper that just before the crash he’d been arguing with his girlfriend, who then began to cry, the warrant reads. Pajak said he hugged his girlfriend, Jenny Benvenuto, 33, then a moment later saw the police car in his path.
“Pajak looked up, saw the cruiser, swerved to avoid the cruiser, but struck the cruiser hard,” according to the warrant. “Pajak remembered the vehicle sliding on its side for a long time, with Jen on top of him.”
The warrant also notes that Pajak’s driver’s license has been suspended 10 times and that he is a convicted felon with 18 convictions for crimes including narcotics possession, obtaining a drug by fraud, assault, and burglar