ALFRED — A Saco man was ordered Thursday to spend three years in prison for accidentally striking an 87-year-old pedestrian with his pickup truck and then driving off. The woman died weeks after the hit-and-run.

Leo Paul Bedard III pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license and causing a death, a Class B felony, and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident, class C, in connection with the crash that killed Jewell Friedman, 87, as she crossed Ferry Road in Saco on June 21, 2014.

Bedard, 45, was sentenced to eight years in prison with all but three years suspended and three years probation on the most serious charge. He was also sentenced to three years, all suspended, for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. The sentence was part of a plea agreement.

Friedman lived at Atlantic Heights retirement community off Ferry Road and several friends from there were in York County Superior Court in Alfred to hear the sentence. Bedard had 13 license suspensions on his license, said York County Assistant District Attorney Johanna Gauvreau, the prosecutor.

Prosecutors say the case is believed the first sentence handed down for causing a death while driving with a suspended license since the Legislature increased penalties related to driving with a suspended license, collectively called Tina’s law after Tina Turcotte, a Scarborough woman who was killed by a driver with a suspended license.

“With Tina’s law, Maine takes this crime seriously. It’s a class B crime,” she said, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. “When your license is suspended, you should not be driving.”

Gouvreau said the crash was an accident and prosecutors did not seek a manslaughter charge because the elements of that crime were not met.

Bedard was driving his 9-year-old son to a baseball game when he struck Friedman as she crossed the road. She was not in a crosswalk but a car in the oncoming lane had stopped to let her cross, said Gauvreau. Bedard kept driving as Friedman lay on the pavement. Her injuries included a broken femur and eight broken ribs and the cause of death weeks later was from complications from her injuries.

Saco police recovered security video from the property where Bedard lived that showed him arrive after the crash, get out of his truck and check the bumper for damage, Gouvreau said. Police received a tip that Bedard was the driver and when questioned, he at first said the damage was from a job site accident.

He was arrested on four outstanding warrants and under questioning said, “If I hit her, I hit her.”

Superior Court Justice John O’Neil Jr. said he had numerous letters from Friedman’s friends telling of the void her death has left in their lives. He explained why the charge and the sentence were not more severe.

He also said the although the sentence is eight years, Bedard would be released after three if he avoids any further criminal conduct. Otherwise, he will be sent back to prison. Bedard’s license automatically will be suspended for 10 years.

Bedard still would have faced consequences if he had stopped, but they would not have been as severe, Gouvreau said afterward.

Dottie Graves, one of Friedman’s friends who attended the sentencing, said she looks out her kitchen window at where Friedman used to live and thinks of her often.

“She was a great lady,” Graves said. “She had more energy than some people in their 30s … She left a hole in the community.”

The local dog park, which Friedman worked hard to make a reality, bears her name and those of her husband, who predeceased her, and her dog Selina.

Bedard, speaking softly and weeping as he addressed the court, apologized to those he had hurt.

“I’m sorry for the pain I caused,” he said. He said he was sorry for Friedman, her family and friends and her dog, to whom she was devoted.

Bedard also apologized to his son and urged him not to make the same mistakes he had.

“I love you. Daddy’s sorry.”

Bedard’s lawyer, Amy Fairfield, said everybody involved with the crash has suffered.

“It was a tragic accident,” she said. “This is a tragedy for all concerned.”

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: @Mainehenchman