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'I Am Truly Sorry': Teen Admits He Helped Kill Photographer

Jaden Churchheus takes bended knee in an Ohio court
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2020 6:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – An Ohio teenager admitted Wednesday to his role in killing a photographer by mistake, People reports. Jaden Churchheus, 17, said in court that he and another teen pushed a log off a cliff that killed Victoria Schafer as she snapped photos in Hocking Hills State Park. "That day at Old Man's Cave, I never would have imagined that my actions would result in this," Churchheus said, per WBNS-10TV. "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."

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Churchheus pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, part of a deal that saw charges of murder and reckless homicide dismissed. He also admitted to being one of two people who pushed the 6-foot-long log. Another boy charged in Schafer's death—17-year-old Jordan Buckley—might accept a similar plea deal when he appears in court next week, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. The teens are facing justice in Hocking County Common Pleas Court, where they can be tried as adults, but the plea deal allows for sentencing in juvenile court. Looks like Churchheus faces between 3 and 4.5 years in an Ohio juvenile detention facility. (At first, the accused seemed to show a "lack of remorse.")

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