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Ohio teens charged with murder of photographer after pushing log off cliff

Log kills woman, teens charged with murder
Ohio teens charged with murder of photographer after pushing log off cliff 03:36

Two teenage boys will now be tried as adults after being charged with the murder of a photographer in Ohio. On Sept. 2, Victoria Schafer was out taking senior pictures for a group of high school students at Hocking Hills State Park. That's when the photographer and mother of four was struck by a 6-foot-long, 74-pound log that fell from the edge of a cliff without warning. It killed her instantly. Students and other witnesses immediately called 911, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.

"A tree branch fell on her!" a person could be heard saying on the 911 call. 

"I think she's dead, there's no pulse," another said.

At the time, authorities began investigating whether the tree section was dislodged on purpose. Last month, they determined two 16-year-old boys, Jaden Churchheus and Jordan Buckley, did push the log intentionally. But one of the boys' attorneys argues his client had no idea the log would kill someone.

Ohio law states someone can be charged with murder in the second degree if they do something intentionally that leads to a death – even if the death itself is not premeditated.

As the case moves out of juvenile court, CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said a grand jury will determine whether or not intentionally pushing that log merits the murder charges in addition to felonious assault and involuntary manslaughter charges.

"I think that the grand jury under these circumstances will come back with one charge or another, and not simply let them walk free," Klieman said.

Meanwhile, Schafer's family remains devastated. We spoke to her sister, Cathy Muth, who told us Schafer died doing what she loved.

"She got the opportunity to leave corporate America and pursue photography full time," Muth said. "She used to draw and paint and do all these things, but photography ended up being her medium that helped her do what she really loved."

Both teens are still in a juvenile detention center on $100,000 bonds. According to the Washington Post, a grand jury could decide whether or not to indict them Friday. If that happens, they could appear before a judge in adult court next week with a trial to follow.

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