AUBURN — A 21-year-old local man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter stemming from a 2020 car crash that killed a Turner teenager will spend nine months in jail.
Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II sentenced Spencer W. Dowd to 10 years in prison Wednesday, but suspended nine years and three months of that sentence in keeping with a plea agreement reached by the defense and prosecutors during an earlier settlement conference.
The felony charge is punishable under Maine law by up to 30 years in prison.
Prosecutors dismissed two of four charges — aggravated eluding an officer and aggravated driving to endanger — at Wednesday’s court hearing.
Dowd also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating beyond the restriction of his driver’s license because his blood-alcohol level was 0.053%; he was 19 years old at the time of the crash.
Stewart sentenced Dowd to six months on that charge, to be served at the same time as the manslaughter sentence.
After he’s released from jail, Dowd will be on probation for four years.
He’s expected to lose his driver’s license for at least 10 years.
Tina Beaucage, whose 18-year-old daughter, Julie, was thrown from the car and pronounced dead at the scene, said Wednesday that her daughter was “the most kind, understanding, caring, beautiful and funny person anyone has ever met.”
Beaucage told Dowd, “I don’t hate you. You’re a young kid that made a horrible decision. At this point in my life, I cannot forgive you. But hopefully, in time, in my heart, I will forgive you.”
She said Dowd should “pay for what you have done. I will never be able to see my beautiful daughter ever again. I hope you think about her every day. And I hope you will always have a sadness in your heart also. Our lives will never be the same because, without Julie, we have broken hearts and we all love her so much and miss her so much.”
Julie Beaucage’s twin sister, Crystal, told Dowd on Wednesday that her sister was her best friend.
“Because of your actions, you took a part of my heart away,” she said.
Another passenger in Dowd’s car, Keegan Pelletier, suffered broken bones, lacerations and a bruised lung, Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mador told the judge.
Authorities said Dowd was driving a 2006 Honda Accord sedan on Route 4 shortly before 3 a.m. on May 29, 2020, when it struck a utility pole on its passenger side and rolled over.
Mador said the force of the single-vehicle crash snapped the pole causing live wires to fall into the roadway.
Dowd and Pelletier had to be extricated from the car.
Dowd’s attorney, Scott Lynch, said his client had no criminal convictions or a motor vehicle record at the time of the crash.
Dowd sustained a broken femur and the bones in his right arm were shattered to the extent he had to learn to be left-handed, Lynch said.
During Dowd’s recovery, he experienced several strokes due to his injuries and, when he heard Beaucage had died in the crash, suffered a heart attack, Lynch said.
Investigators said an Androscoggin County deputy was parked on Route 4 about 2:50 a.m. when the car went past at a high speed, passing other vehicles.
The deputy pursued the Honda, which continued southbound and nearly struck a Maine State Police cruiser, which was traveling north.
At one point, Dowd was driving in the wrong lane with his headlights turned off, Mador said. The trooper took evasive action to avoid a head-on crash, she said.
Reconstruction experts estimated the speed of the car Dowd was driving at more than 108 mph.
Dowd reportedly lost control of the car near Lake Shore Drive and his vehicle went off the east side of the road, striking and breaking a utility pole, then rolling over.
In the debris field from the crash scene, investigators found containers of alcoholic beverages, Mador said.
He and his passengers had been drinking and partying at a bonfire in Hartford earlier that night, authorities said.
Dowd said Wednesday that he had “nothing but regret and remorse” in his heart.
He apologized to the Beaucage family, saying, “I want you to know that the loss of her life caused by my actions is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.”
Dowd said he wished he could go back in time and not get into that car, and to stop for the police officer and act responsibly.
“But I cannot undo what I did,” he said. “I must live with the consequences. I accept full responsibility.”
He has consumed no alcohol since the crash and doesn’t intend to, he said.
“I pledge to be a responsible and caring human being,” he said.
While he is on probation, Dowd will be barred from having any alcohol, illegal drugs and marijuana for which he can be searched and tested at random, the judge told him.
Dowd must submit to substance abuse evaluation and treatment and have no contact with the victim’s family or with Pelletier.
Dowd was taken into custody to begin serving his sentence at the end of Wednesday’s hearing.
His family was in the courtroom.
Justice Stewart said: “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to be sitting on either side of this courtroom,” referring to families of the defendant and victim.