A week before she turned 12, Monica Goods was killed on the New York State Thruway last winter after her family's car flipped over and threw her from the vehicle. Now, a New York State Trooper has been charged with murder, with Monica's family claiming Christopher Baldner rammed his patrol car into theirs and caused the accident. Per the New York Times, Monica was with her father, stepmother, and older sister just before midnight on Dec. 22 as they headed north in Ulster County to visit family for Christmas, when her father, Tristan Goods, was pulled over by Baldner for speeding.
According to Goods' attorney, an argument ensued, and when Goods asked to speak to a supervisor, Baldner blasted pepper spray into the car—at which point Goods sped away, fearing for his safety. Baldner allegedly pursued Goods' car in a high-speed chase, rammed it twice, and caused it to flip, hurling Monica from the car and killing her. On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an indictment of the 43-year-old trooper for second-degree murder. "Police officers are entrusted to protect and serve, but Trooper Baldner allegedly violated that trust when he used his car as a deadly weapon and killed a young girl," James said, per a release.
Bolstering the family's push against Baldner is the fact that he's been involved in two other crashes on the Thruway, including one in 2019 in which three people were seriously hurt, an incident also mentioned in the indictment. In a statement, however, the New York State Troopers Benevolent Association backs Baldner, sending condolences to Monica's family but noting it will help him fight the charges. "We look forward to a review and public release of the facts, including the motorist's reckless actions that started this chain of events," a statement reads.
Monica's mother, meanwhile, wants justice for Monica. "I didn't lose just one child that day. I lost two, because [my other daughter] will never be the same," Michelle Surrency tells CBS New York. "Trooper Baldner needs to be convicted and sent to jail." In addition to the murder accusations against him, for which he could see up to 25 years behind bars if found guilty, Baldner, who's since been suspended without pay, faces manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges. His next hearing in the case is Nov. 4. Monica's family says they also plan to file a lawsuit against him, per the New York Daily News. (Read more state trooper stories.)