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Former hockey pro Thomas Clayton is sentenced to life for hiring a hitman to kill his wife

April 27, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Former hockey pro Thomas Clayton is sentenced to life for hiring a hitman to kill his wife

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Former minor league hockey player Thomas Clayton accused of hiring a man to murder his wife has been sentenced to life behind bars.

Clayton, 37, from Corning, New York, was found guilty of hiring Michael Beard to kill his wife, 35-year-old Kelley, back in September, The Star Gazette reported.

Thomas Clayton had an alibi that he was at a poker game during the killing, but prosecutors said he hired Beard to carry out the murder.

According to Elmira Star-Gazette, Clayton’s daughter, 7-year-old Charlie, wrote in a statement that was read to the court: “I feel my dad is a coward, he asked Michael Beard to kill my mom.”

Thomas Clayton, (right) 37, hired a man to murder his wife Kelley, (left) 35, in September

Kelley’s sister Kim Bourgeois said Charlie and her younger brother Cullen had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Andrea Spirawk, one of Kelley’s lifelong friends, said at the man’s sentencing: “September 29, 2015, the music stopped and everything froze. I ask for the maximum sentence so that no one will be hurt by that despicable man.”

Clayton was sentenced to life behind bars without parole.

He played hockey at Niagara University and later played as a forward for the Elmira Jackals between the early to mid-2000s.

Clayton met his wife Kelley when he was playing for the Jackals, and the couple eventually had two children.

Their kids were both at home during their mother’s murder. They were not hurt in the incident and are now in the custody of family members.

Clayton (left) was sentenced to life without parole. His former employee Beard (right) is awaiting sentencing

Kelley suffered from blunt force trauma after being bludgeoned, and Beard later admitted the killing to authorities, although he has since recanted that confession.

At trial, the court heard that Clayton cheated with multiple women and had frequently complained that he didn’t have the money to divorce Kelley.

Last week Clayton’s defense attorney tried and failed to get a retrial. His lawyer Ray Schlather had cast doubt on Beard’s story.

Clayton told the jury he “had nothing to do with this” and called Beard a liar.

After Clayton had retired from hockey, he bought a franchise in Elmira offering services such as mold remediation and fire damage clean-up.

Beard was facing a life sentenced without parole if found guilty of the first-degree murder charge but is now believed to have accepted a plea deal.

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