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Suspect In Mass. Killing Gets Year In Prison For Westport Chase

WESTPORT, Conn. – Thomas Gardner , the Massachusetts murder suspect arrested in Westport last November, will serve one year in prison for leading police on a high-speed chase through Westport and Fairfield.

The Nov. 9 chase started on I-95 southbound in Fairfield and ended in Westport, where Gardner, of New Bedford, Mass., fled on foot. During the pursuit, Westport police attempted to stop Gardner by deploying stop sticks on Compo Road South. In the process, police said Gardner ran over an officer’s foot .

Gardner later ditched the car behind Westport Country Playhouse. He hid inside the ceiling of the then-under construction Post Office branch at Playhouse Square. Five hours after the pursuit ended, he was arrested when he was spotted walking outside Playhouse Square.

On Monday, Gardner pleaded guilty in Norwalk Superior Court to engaging police on pursuit and assault on a police officer, according to online court records. He is currently serving time at Bridgeport Correctional Center, where he’s been staying since he was arrested, state Department of Corrections records show.

Gardner is suspected in the murder of 36-year-old Michael Duarte, the owner of the car Gardner was driving. Duarte, of New Bedford, Mass., was found dead in a home believed to be owned by Gardner .

A spokesperson from the Bristol District Attorney’s office in Massachusetts could not comment on whether Gardner has been or will be charged with Duarte’s murder. However, he said the office has lodged a detainer for Gardner. This means the District Attorney’s office has filed a request with the state Department of Corrections to take custody of Gardner after he serves his sentence.

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