Utah deputy in deadly collision with BYU student agrees to plea, could avoid jail

Jun 26, 2023, 5:11 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2023, 4:23 pm

a badly damaged car...

BYU student Joseph Spenser was killed in a collision with a speeding, unmarked vehicle driven by a Utah County deputy. (Provo Police Department)

(Provo Police Department)

PROVO, Utah — A deputy who was first charged with felony manslaughter, pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge after he hit and killed 22-year-old BYU student Joseph Spenser in 2021.

He can avoid punishment in the fatal collision as the court will hold his plea in abeyance — meaning it will not sentence him for 18 months as he agrees to the court’s conditions.

BYU student Joseph Spenser was killed in a collision with a speeding, unmarked vehicle driven by a Utah County deputy. (Provo Police Department)

Joseph Richardson agreed to a negligent homicide plea and in turn the state will not request any fine or jail time with the charge if he doesn’t violate any laws for those 18 months, notifies the court of his current address, appears for all hearings and pays any court costs as ordered, according to court documents.

Richardson, off duty on March 17, 2021, was responding to a SWAT call, traveling 57.8 mph in a 35 mph zone in his Toyota Tacoma on 900 East in Provo without any lights or sirens on his vehicle. Spencer pulled out of a Taco Bell and Richardson’s Tacoma struck his car on the driver’s side door, killing him. Richardson applied his breaks before the collision.

The Summit County Attorney’s Office filed one charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony. That charge was reduced to a Class-A  misdemeanor negligent homicide that could still carry up to 364 days in jail and a $2,500 fine if Richardson fails to meet the terms of his plea. After 18 months, if Richardson doesn’t violate the order, the court will enter its judgement, where it will reduce the charge to a Class-B misdemeanor or reckless driving with a guilty plea and no penalty.

Before Richardson was identified, he was placed on administrative leave.

Judge Robert C. Lunnen of the Fourth District Court of Provo, presided over the case.

The call for SWAT response was for a standoff that lasted six hours with a man court records shows has a history of mental illness.



KSL 5 TV Live

Stop For Students

(KSL TV)...

Karah Brackin

UDOT is stressing work zone safety, especially near schools

As road construction ramps up around the state, construction on 5600 South in Roy will directly impact elementary school students heading to and from school.

2 days ago

police at Mary Jackson Elementary...

Cary Schwanitz, Eliza Pace, and Daniel Woodruff, KSL TV

Child injured in hit-and-run crash outside Salt Lake City elementary school

An 8-year-old child was injured in a hit-and-run crash across the street from Mary Jackson Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department.

1 month ago

Joey Skelton, a school bus driver for a Utah school is receiving a thank you poster and an award fo...

Emma Benson

School bus driver hailed as hero for saving student lives after car ignored bus stop arm

A Jordan School District bus driver is being praised after he prevented a possible tragedy from happening to students. 

2 months ago

A new bill introduced in the legislature would increase fines for speeding in school crossings from...

Daniel Woodruff

Lawmaker proposes bigger fines for speeding in Utah school zones

A Utah lawmaker is proposing substantially higher fines for speeding in a school zone.

3 months ago

A cyclist watches traffic before crossing 400 East at 200 South in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March...

Logan Stefanich,

Salt Lake City hoping to make streets safer for K-12 students through nearly $1M grant

The federal government has awarded $953,600 to Salt Lake City to help make its streets safer — particularly for K-12 students.

4 months ago

Noah McArthur (left) in the hospital with his mother, Christine Sara (right) (Courtesy: Christine S...

Emma Benson

Local school district making changes after 3 students hit in crosswalks

After three teenagers were hit by a car in the last year, Wasatch School District is implementing new safety features on their city's streets.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Utah deputy in deadly collision with BYU student agrees to plea, could avoid jail