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Constable teen sentenced to 9 to life for killing mom

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MALONE - A 15-year-old from Constable was sentenced to nine years to life in prison Monday morning by Franklin County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr. for the May 2011 murder of his adoptive mother.

Dilan Clark pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April. In March, he turned down a plea deal of 12 years to life. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in July. He was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 28.

Clark was additionally ordered to pay $375 in fees and surcharges, as well as submit a sample of his DNA for the statewide database.

In April, his attorney, Steve Vanier, said Clark will remain in a juvenile detention facility until he turns 18 and will spend the rest of the sentence in state prison. He will be granted a year of time served and thus be eligible for parole around 2020.

Clark appeared in court Monday shackled, dressed in an orange Franklin County Jail jumpsuit, and flanked by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy.

Approximately 12 of his family members were seated in the gallery behind him. Faint sobs could be heard throughout the sentencing. Several state police investigators sat on the opposite side.

Clark was remorseful and apologetic when given a chance to speak on his own behalf. Much of what he said was unintelligible, as he was speaking through what Vanier later described as “a lump in his throat.”

“He was trying to find words for something that’s unexplainable,” Mr. Vanier said after the sentencing.

“I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” he said. “I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”

Before Judge Main handed down the sentence, Vanier pleaded with the court to hand down a seven years to life sentence. He cited a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court debating the constitutionality of giving a 14 year old life without possibility of parole.

Mr. Vanier also said he was told by Clark’s adoptive father, Ron Clark, the lighter sentence “is what Karen would want... for Dilan to be treated fairly.”

He added that even with the lighter minimum sentence Clark will still have to face a parole board at intervals that can still keep him in prison if they feel his is a danger.

A common thread running through the judge’s and both attorneys’ addresses prior to the sentencing was there was no explanation for why Dilan Clark did what he did.

In Mr. Vanier’s address to the court, he said his client received an evaluation from a clinical neuropsychologist and it left “so many unanswered questions,” but did not elaborate. He later said he could not comment further, citing the HIPAA law.

Mr. Vanier also told the court Dilan Clark is still “trying himself to understand what he did and why he may have done it and the long-term ramifications.”

Special Prosecutor Kristi Sprague said the pre-sentence investigation report contained “no surprises” and painted a picture of Dilan Clark as “a very unpredictable young man.”

“There’s no answers as to why this happened or what triggered this event,” she said.

Sprague is the Essex County district attorney and had been appointed by Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne because of his personal connection to the Clark family.

“The defendant is described variously in materials I have reviewed,” Judge Main said. “What type of person he truly is, what types of changes he can accomplish cannot be predicted or stated with certainty at this time. We will simply have to wait and see.

“For now, for this horrific act, he must be punished as well as helped, and society must be protected, in light of the incredible pain and suffering that separation will bring,” Judge Main said.

The judge went on to praise the attorneys’ conduct throughout the case.

“Each could have acted differently; each could have taken a different road and zealously defended their client,” Judge Main said. “I think, based on what I know about her, Mrs. Clark would have been proud.”

Malone-based state police responding to a 2:01 a.m. 911 call found Karen Bourdon-Clark dead in her Constable home on May 2, 2011. The call was from a 14-year-old girl saying her mother was being assaulted. The 14-year-old girl, Bourdon-Clark’s adopted daughter and Clark’s biological sister, was not harmed.

Clark fled the scene and was found by state troopers several hours later sitting on a neighbor’s porch. He was taken into custody without incident.

Bourdon-Clark was a guidance counselor at Flanders Elementary, having been with the Malone Central School District since 1993. She was a Massena native.

She brought Rachel’s Challenge, a nationwide initiative aimed at curbing bullying, to the district. The program was recently renamed Rachel’s Challenge/Karen’s Hope in her memory.

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