Driver sentenced in deadly Burnside hit-&-run

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 6 at 1:19 PM

PORTLAND – The driver in the deadly Burnside hit-and-run last March changed her plea to guilty to manslaughter in court Monday and sobbed as she was sentenced to 75 months in prison.

Ashley Chavez and her five co-defendants have been charged for crimes associated with the death of 63-year-old Nancy Schoeffler.  They all made plea deals Monday in the complicated, multi-state case.

"Ashley Chavez said goodbye to her mother and that she loved her. I wish I could do the same," the victim's daughter, Solara Schoeffler said during the sentencing.

Nancy Schoeffler was found lying in the roadway on West Burnside Street at Southwest Tichner Drive just after 11 p.m. on March 31, according to Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau. She had been struck by a car that left the scene.

Chavez' sentence translates into just over 6 years and her license was also revoked for life.  She admitted drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at a Timbers game before getting behind the wheel that night.

"She is truly sorry. She is truly sorry for what happened," Chavez' attorney said in court.  Chavez wept during the  sentencing as Schoeffler's family sat and watched.

Chavez fled Oregon after the hit-and-run and was eventually captured in Bellingham, Wash. Police said community tips led them to Chavez and her car.

Five other people also helped cover up the crime, including Chavez' boyfriend, Christopher Rhea, and her brother, Josh Chavez.  Angela Kaps-Collins, a passenger in the car when Schoeffler was struck, was also arrested, along with her husband, Billy Collins and their co-worker, Jose Alberto Torres.

Schoeffler's family sat directly in front of Chavez during Monday's hearing. "This has been devastating for our family, not just the loss of Nancy, but also the cover-up," they said, in a prepared statement.

Background: Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver on W Burnside Street

In court, Kaps-Collins pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and was sentenced to 40 days in jail. Her husband pleaded guilty to the same charges and received a sentence of 30 days in jail.  Rhea pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and was sentenced to 40 days in jail and Chavez' brother was sentenced to 60 days in jail for hindering prosecution. All four were also ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and 3 years probation.

Torres pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and was sentenced to 10 days in jail,100 hours of community service and 2 years probation.  Investigators said he used car parts to alter the vehicle that hit Schoeffler.

More: Suspects arraigned in deadly Burnside hit-and-run

Investigators said the group tried to cover up the deadly crime by altering the car that hit Schoeffler and hiding it on Collins' property in Corbett.  They said Rhea also helped Chavez flee out of the state.

"This was one of the most complex and far reaching investigations that the traffic division has ever been involved in," said Sgt. Todd Davis with the Portland Police Bureau.

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