Julie Clark, 19, of Troy, died of injuries suffered Oct. 31, 2021, in a single-vehicle crash on Neck Road in Benton. Her boyfriend, Stephen B. Richardson III, known as “Blaine,” has been sentenced to serve at least nine months in jail for his reckless driving that led to the crash. Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

AUGUSTA — Stephen B. Richardson III was angry and driving 80 mph when he turned to the passenger seat to look at his girlfriend Julie Clark. They’d been arguing and she asked him to slow down, but he sped up instead.

He took his eyes off the road to look over at her and the 1998 Toyota Corolla they were in drifted into the oncoming lane. Richardson overcorrected, lost control and drove off the road, striking a utility pole on Clark’s side of the car.

Clark, of Troy, who was 19 years old, died from injuries suffered in the Oct. 31, 2021, crash in Benton. And now the 20-year-old Richardson, of Clinton, is in jail, where he’ll serve nine months of an otherwise suspended seven-year prison sentence.

Richardson was sentenced in a tear-filled court hearing on Friday, as family members of both the Clarks and Richardsons looked on and spoke about the tragic loss of Clark, known for her love of animals, libraries, and anyone struggling and in need of a friend or advocate.

Richardson turned to apologize to Clark’s gathered family, telling them he wished he could turn back time and undo what happened, but knows he cannot.

“She’ll never be able to live a life, like I will, and it’s going to hurt me for as long as I’m alive,” the slender, dark-haired Richardson said. “I don’t know how to apologize; I feel like there is no way it’d be able to be accepted. I’m very sorry about what’s happened. And I’ll make the very best of everything, no matter what it takes.”


Richardson was initially charged with manslaughter, a class A felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and a lesser charge of driving to endanger. Under a plea agreement, both of those charges were dropped and replaced with a single count of aggravated assault, a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to that charge Friday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

State prosecutors and Richardson’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein, agreed to a seven-year sentence, with all but nine months suspended. That means he’ll serve nine months in the county jail if he complies with the conditions of his probation, or up to seven years in state prison if he does not.

Julie Clark’s mother, Beth Clark, said it feels like all the joy has been taken from her life since her daughter’s death.

“Christmases, birthdays, Easter, will never be the same,” she said. “Hopes for the future, weddings, trips to camp, everything is gone. I hope you engage and take it seriously, because someday you’re going to be a father, and you’re going to teach your children how to do what’s right. You should have treated my daughter like she was precious, and you didn’t.”

Clark’s grandmother, Theresa Webber, said Julie was gentle, kind and thoughtful, brought peace to those around her and was a mentor to a young cousin who adored her and is struggling greatly with her loss. She said she forgave Richardson, whom she and others referred to as “Blaine,” and prayed he would grow to be a better man.

Julie Clark’s father, Ted Clark, said he will never be able to forgive Richardson for what he’s done. He said Richardson acknowledged to him, at the hospital where Julie Clark died, that he was speeding intentionally because he was angry with her. He said the nine months Richardson is expected to spend in jail is not enough.


“It’s really unfair what he did — childish, foolish, very reckless, idiotic,” Ted Clark said. “I just can’t believe you did it, Blaine. There’s no punishment, obviously, that is going to justify what you did.”

Richardson’s mother, Kristen Richardson, in a statement read in court by Silverstein as she stood by his side, said her son has a heart of gold and would do anything to help someone, and was deeply in love with Julie Clark. She said what happened was a terrible accident, one that will break the hearts of both families.

“Julie was the love of Stephen’s life, and she was the one he was going to marry and start a family with,” she said in the statement. “Julie is gone and I assure you the pain and guilt Stephen feels and has felt since the accident, he will feel for the rest of his life.”

Frayla Tarpinian, deputy district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said there was evidence of both alcohol and THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, in Richardson’s system after the crash. But not enough for him to be charged for driving under the influence.

Richardson was not charged or indicted with operating under the influence, and Tarpinian said the state would not contend that he was impaired at the time of the crash.

Instead, she said he was charged with a crime in the crash because of the totality of his actions: he was traveling 80 mph in a 50 mph zone and was driving recklessly.


Clark and Richardson were taken by ambulance to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Center for Health in Waterville after the crash on Neck Road in Benton. Clark was flown by a LifeFlight of Maine helicopter from MaineGeneral to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she died.

Richardson, who has no prior criminal record, suffered minor injuries in the crash.

His sentence includes three years of probation, with typical conditions such as refraining from all criminal conduct, reporting to his probation officer, not leaving the state without permission, and maintaining employment.

But there are also some special conditions: he must pay $22,000 in restitution for Clark’s funeral expenses, undergo psychological counseling and treatment, not operate a motor vehicle, participate in a restorative justice program if Clark’s family wishes to do so, complete a defensive driving course, and complete 50 hours of public service work, with animals or at a library.

Superior Court Justice Deborah Cashman said it is unusual for public service to be made a condition of probation in such cases, but he thought it was fitting in this case, especially because Julie Clark was known for taking in and nurturing sick or injured animals of all kinds.

“These are clearly created to honor her life and recognize something she found dear, which is working with animals, or in a library,” Cashman said shortly before Richardson was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs on the way to begin his jail sentence. “The addition of that requirement is appropriate so while he’s committing that public service work he will be remembering things that were important to Julie.”

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