Tendzin Parsons, 70, of Hawley, decided against pleading guilty today in Northampton District, on a charge of negligent motor vehicle homicide in connection with the death of 9-year-old Summer Steele of Plainfield on Oct. 28, 2016.
He is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 17, 2017 at 8:30 a.m., at which time a trial date will likely be set.
The change of plea came after Judge Michael Goggins informed Parsons that he would impose a one-year sentence to the House of Correction, rather than a suspended sentence and probation that had been jointly recommended by the Commonwealth and Parsons’ attorney.
Goggins said he believes incarceration was necessary when “the ultimate price was paid by a beautiful young girl” for Parsons’ “colossal negligence.”
Steele, who was a student at Sanderson Academy, died as a result of injuries she sustained after becoming caught in the door of the school bus Parsons was driving that afternoon. She was pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center shortly before 5 p.m. that day.
Parsons had been arraigned on the negligent motor vehicle charge on May 12, 2017 and released on the conditions that he not operate a motor vehicle, surrender his passport and not leave the Commonwealth without the permission of the probation department.
The incident was investigated by the Plainfield Police and various divisions of the Massachusetts State Police.