ROCKLAND — A South Thomaston woman was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of 83-year-old Helen Carver in her Owls Head home last February.
Sarah Richards, 38, was sentenced July 29 by Justice Bruce Mallonee in Knox County Superior Court.
Richards pleaded guilty April 23 to murder and theft for the Feb. 21, 2019, death of Helen Carver.
Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt, of Camden, submitted a sentencing recommendation memorandum to the state July 24, and requested a 30-year-sentence for Richards.
Pratt stated that his client had a history of mental illness and drug addiction. He also cited issues with her physical health, including liver disease.
“Sarah Richards’ mental health has been the predominant factor in her life. It affects her drug addiction, her role as a mother, her work history, her criminal history and her relationships with abusive men; in other words, mental illness leaves no part of her life untouched,” Pratt said.
“Due to the nature of the conduct, the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, Sarah’s mental health, her family support, her prospects for rehabilitation, her victimization, her age and health, Sarah is asking the court to impose a sentence of 30 years,” he added.
The state recommended a sentence of 50 years. The minimum sentence for murder in Maine is 25 years, with a maximum term of life imprisonment.
One of Helen Carver’s sons, Robert Carver Jr., submitted a letter to the state describing the effect that the murder has had on the entire family, friends, and the community.
“Helen Carver was a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” Carver said. “She was a Christian woman who found a way to do good from her home. She sent cards and letters to those in need of comfort.”
“She has been and will always be greatly missed by friends and family. What I miss the most is our daily calls. She always brightened up my day,” he said. “I miss my mother, my rock.”
Richards has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland since she was arrested by the Maine State Police Feb. 22, 2019.
The details regarding the investigation which led to the arrest of Richards were released the following month, on March 7, in an affidavit from the Maine State Police filed in Knox County Superior Court. She was indicted March 5 by the Knox County grand jury for murder and the theft of more than $1,000.
According to the affidavit filed in court, on Feb. 21, Carver’s son, Robert, spoke with his mother by telephone for approximately 10 minutes shortly before 11 a.m. He told police that his mother informed him during their conversation that Richards had allegedly stolen her debit card. She said that she had reported the theft to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Feb. 14.
Police had obtained multiple videos of Richards using Carver’s debit card, according to the affidavit.
Witness reports and other evidence document that Richards and a man, who is not named in the police affidavit, were seen leaving Carver’s house shortly about 11:30 a.m., Feb. 21.
Richards and the man were located Feb. 22 and they admitted to police that they were at Carver’s home between 11 and 11:30 a.m. to remove snow, the report said. Police said that Richards had been employed by Carver to shovel her walkway during the winter.
Richards stated that when she went inside the home and spoke with Carver, Carver was still in good shape when she left, the report said. Richards said she did some small things for Carver inside of her home before leaving, such as turning on her television and getting her phone for her.
Richards admitted to police that she had previously stolen and used Carver’s debit card, the report said.
She later changed her story and told police that when she arrived at Carver’s home, Carver was on the floor, dead, and that she provided lifesaving efforts before leaving the house, according to the affidavit.
Richards then told police that when she went into the home, Carver was upset that she had stolen her debit card and “came at her” so she lunged at the elderly woman and tackled her into an entertainment center, the report said. She told police that she also struck Carver in the head with a tool, not defined in the police affidavit, she had taken into the home.
The Maine Chief Medical Examiner’s Office determined from an autopsy completed Feb. 22 that the cause of death was homicide caused by blunt force trauma with evidence of strangulation, according to the affidavit.
Richards has a criminal record with past convictions of theft and drug trafficking, some listed under her former married name, Sarah Stalcup.
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org