Teens Charged With Murder in Photog's Death

Jaden Churchheus and Jordan Buckley, 16, apparently showed a 'lack of remorse'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2019 9:35 AM CDT

Two Ohio teens accused of killing a photographer with a 74-pound log will be tried as adults, Cleveland.com reports. Jaden Churchheus and Jordan Buckley, 16, apparently shoved the log off a cliff last month, killing 44-year-old Victoria Schafer as she took photos of high school students near Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park. Now the accused are charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, and felonious assault. That's up from the original misdemeanor charge of reckless homicide: "With their lack of remorse, we felt we needed to send a message," Assistant Hocking County Prosecutor Jorden Meadows tells the Akron Beacon Journal. "We've seen too many deaths out of the caves."

Seems the accused confessed but later denied the charges, which is comparable to pleading not guilty in juvenile court. Why both murder and manslaughter charges? It's a fairly common legal strategy that lets a jury choose one or the other when mulling a verdict, per the Chillicothe Gazette. "We had to decide whether we could prove the knowing part (of the murder charge)," says Meadows. "After talking to our colleagues in other counties, we feel comfortable that we can prove the knowing part of the charge." The victim's family issued a statement saying they were "grateful ... to have a better understanding of the actions of others" and hoped "the information learned will prevent another family from ever experiencing a similar tragedy." (More murder stories.)

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