ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Bucksport teenager was ordered to serve 10 days in jail after admitting Friday to being responsible for the death of 15-year-old classmate Taylor Darveau in October 2013.
Samantha Goode, 17, made the admission — the juvenile equivalent of a guilty plea — Friday morning before Judge Bruce Mallonee. About 50 people crammed into a courtroom of the Hancock County Courthouse to observe the proceedings.
As part of a plea deal with the Hancock County district attorney’s office, Goode admitted to causing the death Oct. 3, 2013, of Darveau, her classmate at Bucksport High School, as they were driving from the school to Darveau’s house. Goode, who has no prior record, received an overall sentence of 30 days with all but 10 days suspended at a juvenile detention facility and will remain on juvenile probation until she turns 19 years old.
Goode’s defense attorney, Josh Tardy of Newport, said that his client could have to return to jail for an indeterminate period of time if she violates her juvenile probation. Her sentence was stayed until 9 a.m. Saturday, at which time she will have to turn herself in at the Mountain View juvenile correctional facility in Charleston. She also has had her driver’s license suspended for five years.
For the first time on Friday, officials involved in the investigation publicly acknowledged that Goode was racing with teenagers in a sport-utility vehicle when the crash occurred. The driver and passenger in the other vehicle were not charged in connection with the crash or Darveau’s death, and so they are not being identified by the Bangor Daily News.
Though she is a juvenile, the Bangor Daily News is publicly identifying Goode because of the seriousness of the manslaughter charge.
Carletta “Dee” Bassano, the district attorney for Hancock County, told Mallonee that the two boys in the other vehicle had been at the same spaghetti dinner at Bucksport High School that Goode and Darveau had attended just prior to the crash. The four teenagers were heading to Darveau’s house to hang out after the dinner and joked about racing each other to their destination, which is about five miles from the high school, Bassano said.
The vehicles may not have been racing when they pulled out of the parking lot, but the trip quickly escalated into a race that prompted several people to call police to report that the speeding vehicles were headed north on Central Street and then on Bucks Mills Road, the prosecutor told the judge. Twice, the boys tried to pass Goode’s 1999 Subaru, and each time, Goode moved over to block the road, Bassano said.
A little more than three miles from the high school, Goode lost control of her car, causing it to skid off the road and into a tree on the passenger side. After reconstructing the accident, police determined the car had been going nearly 75 mph in a 45-mph zone. The teen drivers initially denied that they had been racing but later acknowledged that they were, Bassano said.
“It doesn’t get more serious than this,” the prosecutor said, referring to Darveau’s death. “[Driving] is not a video game. It’s not something where you go off the track and can start over again.”
Goode’s attorney told Mallonee that, though some facts would have been disputed had the case gone to trial, he and his client agreed with the overall picture painted by the prosecutor.
“[Goode] acknowledges she was reckless, criminally reckless, and caused the death of her friend,” Tardy said.
Darveau’s parents had been at the same spaghetti dinner as Goode and their daughter and let their daughter ride home with Goode who, according to the Darveaus, told them she was allowed to have other teenagers ride in her car, though she had only an intermediate license and was not supposed to.
Christina Darveau, Taylor Darveau’s mother, read a lengthy victim impact statement to the judge, telling him that, just six days prior to the crash, she had talked to her daughter about the dangers of reckless driving.
She said that as soon as she got to her house after the dinner on Oct. 3, she got a cellphone call about the accident. She left immediately and drove back south on Bucks Mills Road, finding the crumpled car against the tree.
The mother said her daughter was still trapped inside the car. She reached her hand inside the car and held her daughter’s hand. Christina Darveau asked Taylor Darveau to squeeze her hand if she could hear her, and her daughter did.
“She was struggling to breathe and trying to talk to me,” Christina Darveau said, her voice welling up with emotion as she addressed the judge.
Darveau told Mallonee that since the accident, she and her family have decided to devote themselves to raising awareness about reckless driving among teenagers. She said she hopes that after Goode gets out, the teenager will help spread the same message to other young drivers.
“Her voice can make a difference,” Darveau said of Goode.
Taylor Darveau’s father, Corey Darveau, also addressed the court at length, telling Mallonee about the difficulty he has had in the past year coming to grips with his daughter’s death. Standing next to his wife, he said he had to take several months off from work and get counseling.
“My world stopped turning and time stood still” when Taylor Darveau died, he said. “I not only lost Taylor — I lost my family as I knew them.”
The Darveaus declined to comment further after the hearing ended.
Darveau’s grandmother, Trish Umphrey, told reporters outside that courthouse that she thought the incarceration part of the sentence was not long enough.
“I wouldn’t want to see [Goode] go to to jail for six or eight or 10 years for it, you know, but she should have gone to jail for longer than 10 days,” Umphrey said.
Goode’s parents, Matthew and Lorraine Goode, also were present in the courtroom. They apologized for the turmoil the incident has generated in Bucksport and asked the judge to spare their daughter from having to spend any time behind bars.
Samantha Goode also addressed the court, apologizing to the Darveaus and everyone else at the hearing. She said she deserves to face punishment for causing the accident that killed her friend.
“I’m so deeply sorry you have to live with this the rest of your lives,” the girl said.
Matthew Goode later declined to speak to reporters outside the courthouse.
Mallonee, in deciding to have Samantha Goode spend at least 10 days behind bars, said he didn’t think any sentence could make her reflect more upon Darveau’s death and that he didn’t want to cause any lasting damage to Goode’s life.
“One lost teenager is enough,” he said.
But, the judge added, he wants Goode’s 10-day stay at Mountain View to have a lasting impression on her.
“I hope [the jail term] will punish you so badly that you won’t punish yourself anymore when you get out,” Mallonee said.