Former Niagara player Clayton gets life in prison, no parole in wife’s murder plot

According to WETM, former Niagara forward Thomas Clayton was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Clayton was convicted in February of hiring another man, Michael Beard of Elmira, N.Y., to kill his wife, Kelley Stage Clayton, back in September 2015.

Clayton had an alibi as he was at a poker game during the killing, but prosecutors said he hired Beard to kill his wife. Allegedly, Clayton had been cheating on his wife and couldn’t afford a divorce.

The Daily Mail reported that Beard, a former employee of Clayton’s, is awaiting sentencing.

Kelley died from blunt force trauma after being bludgeoned and Beard later confessed to police, although he has since retracted that confession. Clayton’s defense said he called 911 after coming home and finding his wife unresponsive.

Last week, Clayton’s defense team tried and failed to get a retrial.

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

The Claytons had two young children who were home at the time of the attack and they are now being cared for by family members.

Clayton played for the Purple Eagles from 1999 to 2002.