UPDATED: 11:10 p.m. This afternoon, Raymond Clark III, the man convicted of the murder and sexual assault of Annie Le GRD ’13, was sentenced to 44 years in prison.
Clark’s sentence comes almost 21 months after he killed Le on September 8, 2009 in 10 Amistad St., the research building where they both worked. At the sentencing in New Haven Superior Court, Clark spoke publicly about his crimes for the first time. Family members of Le and of the defendant were present in the courtroom and many members of both families were visibly distraught and crying. Clark’s father and five family members of Le delivered statements expressing deep sadness at the crimes committed. Near the end of the delivery of his own statement at the end of the proceeding, Clark expressed remorse and turned toward about 15 members of Le’s family to directly apologize.
“I stand here today taking full responsibility for my actions,” Clark said, struggling through the statement as he teared up. “I am truly, truly sorry for taking Annie’s life.”
Members of Le’s family delivered statements at the beginning of the proceeding. Le’s family expressed deep anguish concerning the crimes Clark committed, recalling memories of the events surrounding her murder in September 2009 and how the loss has affected them since. Le family members said they had difficulty dealing with the hardship caused by the murder and that they have struggled to bring closure to the incident. Indeed, although the sentencing brought the criminal proceedings against Clark to an end, court battles over Le’s death could continue, with the family considering a civil suit, potentially against Yale.
Le’s mother, Vivian Le, composed herself following opening remarks made by Prosecutor John Waddock in order to deliver the family’s first statement. At one point during the delivery, she addressed Clark directly.
“You took away my only daughter,” Vivian said. “Her future is gone, her life is gone. Society has lost a beautiful woman. My family has lost a beautiful soul.”
A doctoral student at the Department of Pharmacology, Le was first reported missing on September 8, 2009. Her body was found by police behind a wall in the basement of 10 Amistad St. five days later –– the day she was to be married. DNA, keycard and video evidence eventually led federal, state and local police investigators to Clark, a lab technician who worked in the building. Though he initially pled not guilty to charges of murder and felony murder, Clark changed his plea to guilty this past March as part of a plea bargain.
In his opening remarks, Waddock said that though at first the sentence was not entirely satisfactory to the prosecution or defense, both sides eventually came to accept it. He reminded those present in the courtroom of the significance of the 44 year sentence, explaining that Clark would remain in prison for the majority of his life. Individuals serving time for murder in Connecticut are not eligible for parole.
Still, some members of Le’s family expressed disappointment with the sentence at the proceeding, saying they thought Clark deserved more jail time. Le’s uncle, Tuyet Bui, said he thought Clark’s life deserved to be taken away, and that at the very least he wished the Court would sentence him to life in prison.
“I must speak up today and state emphatically that I feel as though Annie’s life has been and will be further denigrated and defiled if this Court renders a decision which calls for anything less than the very life of the man who raped, brutalized, and murdered her,” Bui said during the proceeding.
Le’s brother, Chris, said that though no punishment is capable of making him feel better about the situation, he does hope Clark can realize the “totality of his actions.”
Delivering the final words of the sentencing, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano said that no amount of time will ever compensate for the loss of Annie Le.
“Closure is not a likely scenario,” Fasano said, adding, “This defendant is going to pay for this crime every day of his existence.”
After the sentencing, Joseph Tacopina, the attorney for Le’s parents, addressed the press in front of the court house and recognized the possibility of a civil suit, acknowledging that Yale could potentially face a lawsuit if it were proven security was inadequate at the time of Le’s death. He added that he and the family are determined to ensure all of those responsible for Le’s death “in any way, shape, or form” are held accountable. He declined to say with certainty whether the family would file a lawsuit or who they may pursue a suit against, but did say that if an investigation determines Le’s death could have been prevented, the family would consider taking further legal action.
Upon his release from prison, Clark will be 70.