One of two teenage boys charged with pushing a 74-pound log over a cliff, where it hit a photographer and killed her, has taken a plea deal in the case, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Jaden W. Churchheus, 17, pleaded guilty in Hocking County Common Pleas Court involuntary manslaughter in the September 2, 2019, death of Victoria Schafer, 44, a mother of four children.
Schafer had been taking senior pictures for a local high school at Old Man’s Cave section of Hocking HIlls State Park when the incident took place, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
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Churchheus and Jordan Buckley, who were both 16 at the time, were charged with murder and reckless homicide and ordered to stand trial as adults. Those two charges were dropped for Churchheus as part of the plea, and Hocking County Common Pleas Court Judge John T. Wallace agreed to transfer the case back to juvenile court for sentencing. Wallace has recommended that Churchheus serve three to 4.5 years in a juvenile detention facility.
Buckley is expected to plead to the same deal when he appears in court on September 25. Both would be sentenced in juvenile court on October 15.
Buckley and Churchheus are accused of moving the six-foot log more than 40 feet from where it rested to the edge of the 75-foot cliff, then pushing it over the edge.
Churchheus spoke in court on Wednesday to offer an apology, 10TV reported.
“That day at Old Man’s Cave, I never would have imagined that my actions would result in this,” he said. “I have thought about the fact that I caused someone’s death every day since it happened, and I will carry that with me for the rest of my life. I appreciate the kindness of Ms. Schafer’s family, the attorney general’s office and the prosecutor’s office in giving me a second chance. I realize that nothing I say can bring Ms. Schafer back, but I am truly sorry.”
Fritz Schafer, Victoria Schafer’s husband of 21 years, was in court on Wednesday and said he would speak at the final sentencing.
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[Feature Photo: Victoria Schafer/Facebook]