An Ohio teenager has admitted to pushing a heavy log off a cliff, which struck and killed a mother of four who was taking portraits for high schoolers at the time.
Jaden Churchheus, 17, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the 2019 death of Victoria Schafer, 44, WCMH reports. In exchange for the guilty plea, murder and reckless homicide charges against the teen were dropped.
Schafer was taking high school portraits for students near Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park in September of last year when Churchheus and another teen, identified by authorities as Jordan Buckley, decided to push a 74-pound log off a nearby cliff, WBNS reports. It struck Schafer and killed her almost instantly.
Investigators soon realized that the log fall was not caused by natural circumstances. It took weeks for them to identify suspects in the incident. The two boys, both 16 at the time, were arrested and initially charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide. They are being tried as adults.
"That day at Old Man's Cave, I never would have imagined that my actions would result in this," Churchheus said in court on Wednesday, WBNS-TV reports. "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.”
He thanked Schafer’s family, the attorney general's office and the prosecutor's office for giving him “a second chance.”
Buckley is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 25. He is expected to take a similar deal, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.
A judge recommended Churchheus serve a minimum of 3 years in a juvenile detention facility.
Schafer was a mother of four. Her husband Fritz Schafer is expected to speak at the final sentencing hearings.
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