Utah County legislator to face charges in accident that killed BYU student

Joe Richardson crashed into Joseph Spencer’s vehicle as the 22-year-old pulled out of a parking lot.

(Courtesy of the Spencer family) Joseph Spencer is shown on his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Diego, California.

A 4th Circuit judge ruled last week that a Utah County deputy will be tried by a jury after he punched and killed a Brigham Young University student in 2021, court documents show.

Rep. Joe Richardson, 53, has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the Provo wreck, which killed 22-year-old Joseph Spencer, according to court documents. Richardson pleaded not guilty on December 13.

Richardson’s trial is scheduled for June 26-27 and June 29.

On March 16, 2021, Joseph Spencer was exiting a Taco Bell lot at 433 North and 900 East in Provo when Richardson crashed into Spencer’s vehicle, killing the student.

According to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Richardson was on the road became the scene of a police altercation with a gunman in Pleasant Grove that afternoon. No one was injured in the standoff. The black truck Richardson was driving was his personal vehicle and was not equipped with lights or sirens, police said.

(Photo courtesy Provo Police Department) Joseph Spencer, 22, died after a truck hit his car as he pulled out of a parking lot.

Data collected from Richardson’s vehicle showed he was traveling at about 56 mph just prior to the fatal accident while traveling southbound on 900 East, where the speed limit is 35 mph, sources in the loading documents.

Richardson collided with Spencer as the student attempted to turn left.

“As I came down here, I saw him begin to back away from me,” Richardson told authorities, according to the indictment. “I shouldn’t have… I shouldn’t have tried to hit him.”

After the wreck, Richardson rendered assistance to Spencer, the document said, but Spencer was pronounced dead at the scene. A coroner determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

According to a memorandum filed in November, Richardson’s attorneys want him to be charged with involuntary manslaughter instead of manslaughter. But prosecutors said there was enough evidence to charge Richardson with manslaughter after he “recklessly caused the death of another.”

Spencer’s family had filed a lawsuit against Richardson, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Utah County and Taco Bell, but released Richardson from the lawsuit in August, according to court documents.

Spencer was “calm and easygoing but quick-witted,” according to his online obituary. “He had an infectious laugh and smile, and he loved making others laugh.”

At the time of his death, he had recently served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Diego, the obituary reads. A BYU spokesman said Spencer studied information technology.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/12/19/utah-county-deputy-stand-trial/ Utah County legislator to face charges in accident that killed BYU student

Justin Scacco

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