Former Hockey Star Sentenced to Life Without Parole For Wife’s Murder

Many people were shocked and in even in denial when Thomas Clayton, former hockey player for Elmira Jackals, was arrested in connection to his wife’s death.

However, the evidence is extremely incriminating, and Clayton was sentenced to life in prison, without parole, on Monday. The jury convicted him of both first and second degree murder charges back in February.

According to reports, he hired Michael Beard, a former employee, to murder his wife, Kelley Clayton, in September 2015.

Beard, 46, was also convicted with the same charges as Clayton. However, he was only sentenced to a maximum of 25 years to life.

Prosecutors convinced the jury that Clayton hired former employee Michael Beard to kill Kelley in exchange for payment. Beard was convicted on the same charges in early November.
Four days after Clayton’s trial ended, Steuben County Judge Peter Bradstreet sentenced Beard to life in prison without parole, while Beard continued to maintain his innocence. Beard is serving his sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.
Clayton was at a poker game in Corning the night his wife was murdered. He called Steuben County 911 minutes after returning home to report that Kelley was dead and that his house had been robbed.
Investigators didn’t buy his story and later that day charged Clayton with his wife’s death. A tip from a family member of Kelley’s led police to Beard, who initially implicated Clayton but later recanted his confession.
Testimony at Clayton’s trial revealed a man who was generous with his money but who also cheated on his wife with several other women, and often complained he couldn’t divorce Kelley because she would get everything.
A key aspect of special prosecutor Weeden Wetmore’s case was the testimony of Sy Ray, a former police officer who developed software that can process cellphone data from different sources and use it to create maps that can pinpoint a cellphone user’s location and movements.
Bradstreet denied the motion, paving the way for Monday’s sentencing.
A third suspect in the case, Mark Blandford, a friend of Beard’s who acted as a lookout the night Kelley Clayton was killed, was sentenced last week to three to six years in state prison.
Blandford testified at Clayton’s trial in exchange for an offer to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, rather than the original charge of second-degree murder.

If you ask me, our tax dollars shouldn’t have to pay to keep him alive for the next fifty years.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Keely Sharp

Keely Sharp

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Send this to a friend