Crime and Courts

Murder Charge Dropped Against NY Trooper Accused of Killing Girl, 11, in Vehicle Chase

Monica Goods died in Dec. 2020 after trooper Christopher Baldner rammed her family's car twice during a pursuit

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A murder charge against a New York State Police trooper accused of deliberately ramming an SUV during a pursuit, causing the vehicle to flip and leading to the death of an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl, has been dropped — and the victim's family is outraged.

Michelle Surrency, the mother of Monica Goods, is pleading for the state's attorney general to appeal the Ulster County judge's decision, after that top charge was thrown out on Thursday. The judge said that the evidence does not support a murder charge.

"Hearing this news yesterday was a gut punch — like I just found out my baby was murdered," the mother said on Friday, fighting back tears. "Our holidays, we spend at the gravesite of Monica. We go to the cemetery."

Surrency is fighting for justice for her daughter, two years after the child was killed on I-87 just before Christmas in 2020. State Trooper Christopher Baldner was previously indicted on murder, manslaughter and multiple reckless endangerment charges in the crash that led to Monica Goods' death.

Tristan Goods was driving his wife and two daughters to visit relatives when Baldner stopped him for speeding in the town of Ulster, about 95 miles north of New York City. Baldner sprayed pepper spray into the vehicle during the stop, prosecutors said, but it was not clear what caused him to do so. Goods said he sped away because he was concerned for his family's safety.

State police said the father then drove off, resulting in a chase. Baldner allegedly struck the Goods’ SUV from behind twice before it hit a guardrail and flipped. The SUV flipped over several times and came to rest upside down, prosecutors said.

Tristan Goods' daughter, Monica, was ejected from the SUV and pronounced dead at the scene. Her 12-year-old sister was badly injured.

The trooper is accused of deliberately running a driver off the road, killing the driver's 11-year-old daughter — who was in the car — in the process. NBC New York's Jessica Cunnington reports.

"The question is: Did this officer act with a depraved indifference to human life. That question should be answered by a jury, not a judge," said Sanford Rubenstein, the family's attorney, as they pressure the attorney general.

The attorney general's office told NBC New York they are reviewing the decision.

"All I hope and pray is that the AG's office appeals the decision, so that justice can be served for my children," said Surrency.

Rubenstein said that the trial date is currently set for March 6, but added if the attorney general decides to appeal, the trial date would change.

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