UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A Rockford teen found guilty of crashing into and killing a woman back in 2013 will now spend the next 24 years behind bars.
19-year-old Traveon Parham was sentenced to 24 years for his involvement in the death of 58-year-old Karen Schafer.
Parham fled from police and crashed into Schafer's car down the road from Holy Family Church.
The judge and the state's attorney's office hope that the length of the sentence will deter others from trying to run from law enforcement.
"Fleeing and eluding police officers is a plague in our community," said Marilyn Hite Ross with the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office. "It can only result in a tragedy such as this being the death of Mrs. Schafer. When you see the lights and you hear the siren, you need to stop and stay stopped. It's not a game. It's a situation that can mean life or death."
"Obviously, my client is a little bit upset about the sentence based upon the number of years he was sentenced to," said defense attorney Elder Granger. "He is relatively young in age being 19, his family is also upset about the length of the sentence."
The judge says that Schafer epitomizes the innocent bystander and that there was nothing she could have done to prevent her death.
He says if you see the lights flashing behind you, you must pull over before things go downhill.
He hopes seeing long sentences like this will deter people from breaking the law in the future.
Both families declined to comment on the ruling.
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The Rockford teen who killed an innocent woman after breaking into cars during a local church service apologizes to the victim’s family, days before he hears how long he’ll spend in prison for the crime.
19-year-old Traveon Parham was found guilty of aggravated unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle, vehicle theft conspiracy, drunk driving involving death, and reckless homicide.
The case surrounds the death of 58-year-old Karen Schafer who was killed on Alpine Road in 2013 after police say Parham and other teens were going more than 70mph while leaving the scene in a stolen car. The teen expressed his apology to Schafer’s family in court this morning saying he’s had a lot of time to think and he never meant to cause so much hurt.
“I never meant to no one’s life, and I never meant to hurt anyone or their family like that. It affected me and changed me a lot. It made me look at life completely different and I learned a lot from the situation. There is really no way for me to apologize but from the bottom of my heart I did not mean to hurt anyone,” said Parham.
Parham will be back in court Tuesday. The State’s Attorney’s Office is asking for no less than 50 years.
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The man accused of crashing into a local mother while running from police, will not be convicted of first degree murder.
A judge found 19-year-old Traveon Parham not guilty on all three counts of first degree murder.
Parham hit and killed 58-year-old Karen Schafer in February of 2013 while fleeing from police at more than 70 miles per hour when Schafer was driving to Sunday mass.
Officers say Parham was burglarizing cars in the Holy Family parking lot before the crash. He was found guilty on 26 other counts, including two counts of reckless homicide and aggravated fleeing from police in a stolen car while under the influence of marijuana.
There is uncertainty as to how many of those 26 counts Parham will face as an adult, because Parham was 17 at the time of the crash. That hearing will be held on August 14th.
From July 2015:
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Closing arguments are expected soon in the trial of a Rockford teen accused of first-degree murder.
The trial for 19-year-old Traveon Parham is expected to end soon.
Police say Parham hit 58-year-old Karen Schafer when he crashed a stolen vehicle while fleeing from officers back in February 2013.
He is also charged with driving under the influence of drugs, among others.
From June 2015:
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The trial is underway for a Rockford teen accused of fleeing from police in a stolen car while high, then hitting and killing a woman over two years ago.
19-year-old Traveon Parham was driving near Holy Family Catholic Church back in February 2013 when he struck 58-year-old Karen Shafer.
Parham has pleaded not guilty. Closing arguments are expected tomorrow before a judge. He faces dozens of counts, including first degree murder and reckless homicide.
From May 2015:
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The trial for a Rockford man who police say killed a woman while running away from police has been delayed until next month.
Attorneys are still deciding whether 19-year-old Traveon Parham will face a jury or bench trial. Parham is charged with murder in the February 2013 death of Karen Shafer.
Police say he was driving a stolen vehicle when he hit Shafer while she was on her way to Holy Family Church. The trial is now set for June 15th.
From March 2013:
UPDATE: The Rockford teen accused of killing a woman with his car plead not guilty today.
17-year-old Traveon Parham's bond was also increased to $1 million dollars.
Police say they caught him breaking into cars in the Holy Family Church parking lot. When they tried to track him down, he crashed into Karen Shafer's minivan, killing her. Authorities say Parham was high and driving a stolen car.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Murder charges have been filed against the teenager accused of killing a Rockford woman on her way to church as he tried to run from police.
The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office says if it wasn’t for 17-year-old Traveon Parham’s actions, Karen Shafer would be alive today.
Parham is charged with 29 counts, including three counts of first degree murder and two counts of reckless homicide. The accident happened on February 24th at the intersection of Alpine and Brendenwood. Police say they ran a red light and crashed into 58-year-old Karen Shafer’s mini-van, killing her. The State’s Attorney’s Office says Parham was on drugs at the time of the accident and was driving a stolen vehicle. Altogether, if found guilty Parham could spend the rest of his life in prison.
“Based on all the charges we believed the possibility is a maximum of 84 years, based on current sentencing laws and requirements,” said Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato.
Parham is in jail on a $250,000 bond. He’ll be in court on March 28th.
The other two who were in the car that day were arrested for parole violations but have not been charged with anything. However, the investigation is ongoing. Also we spoke with Karen Shafer’s family today. They tell us they’re happy with the charges brought against Parham.
UPDATE: On March 21, 2013, the Winnebago County State’s Attorney announced that a Winnebago County Grand Jury has returned a 29 count Bill of Indictment charging 17 year old Traveon Parham in regards to the traffic related death of Karen Shafer on February 24, 2013. The bill of Indictment charges the following:
(3) Counts – First Degree Murder (a Class M)
(4) Counts – Agg. Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle (a Class 1)
(2) Counts - Vehicle Theft Conspiracy (a Class 1)
(1) Count - Agg. DUI (a Class 2)
(2) Counts – Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle (a Class 2)
(2) Counts – Theft (a Class 2)
(2) Counts – Reckless Homicide (a Class 3)
(2) Counts – Agg. DUI Great Bodily Harm (a Class 4)
(1) Count – Agg. DUI Under Influence Drugs (a Class 4)
(3) Counts – Failure to Stop after having an accident involving personal injury or death (a Class 4)
(2) Counts – Agg. Reckless Driving (a Class 4)
(5) Counts – Agg. Fleeing to Elude (a Class 4)
At this time Traveon Parham remains under a $250,000 bond. Mr. Parham will next appear in court on Thursday, March 28, 2013. The case remains under investigation.
UPDATE 2/26: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The three teenagers wanted in last weekend’s fatal car crash were released from the hospital Tuesday and taken right into police custody.
The trio are all on probation. The 16-year-old driver faces a laundry list of charges including reckless homicide, driving under the influence of drugs and multiple traffic violations.
His passengers’ 17-year-old Corey Butler and a 16-year-old were arrested for probation violation. Police accuse the guys breaking into cars in the parking lot of Holy Family Church Sunday after. Police say when they tried to get away; they crashed into 58-year-old Karen Shafer, killing her.
The following charges were authorized:
Juvenile Male, 16 years of age, Rockford, Illinois
-Aggravated DUI (Drugs) Involving Death
-Aggravated DUI (Drugs) Involving Great Bodily Harm (2 counts)
-Aggravated Reckless Driving (2 counts)
-Aggravated Fleeing to Elude (4 counts)
-Failure to Stop After Having an Accident involving Personal Injury or Death (3 counts)
-Driving While License Suspended
-Disobeyed Traffic Control Signal (Red Light)
-Improper Traffic Lane Usage
-Improper Turn at Intersection
Corey J. Butler, 17 years of age, Rockford, Illinois
Juvenile Male, 16 years of age, Rockford, Illinois
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – There is new information about this weekend’s fatal car accident that killed a local mother who officers say was on her way home from Mass. Police tell us the three suspects who crashed into her mini-van were teenagers likely fleeing from police after burglarizing cars in the Holy Family Church parking lot.
We’re also learning more about the woman, who many say, will be greatly missed.
Family members tell us 58-year-old Karen Shafer was an OB/GYN nurse at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. They say she dedicated her life to bringing new life into this world. Her brother says she has attended Mass at the church every week for the last 40 years. Police believe she was on her way to church when she was killed in the accident.
The crash happened on Alpine and Brendenwood roads just after noon Sunday. Rockford Police say a Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted a car that was likely linked to break-ins in the Church’s parking lot. That’s when officers say three suspects took off and ended up crashing their car into Shafer’s minivan killing her. Family members are devastated.
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department tells us the deputy who approached the alleged burglary suspects turned her lights on, but did not chase the suspects. In fact, we’re told she shut off her lights and sirens when she says the suspects picked up speed. It’s just not something the department does because of the danger.
The suspects were also injured, however they are expected to survive. This group may be the same people who broke into cars at Rockford First and other area churches last weekend.
UPDATE: The woman killed in Sunday's crash has been identified as 58 year old Karen Shafer. The Winnebago County Coroner has confirmed that her cause of death was blunt trauma to her chest and abdomen due to the motor vehicle crash.
Rockford Police tell us the suspects involved in this weekend's fatal crash are two 17 year-olds and a 16 year-old who was likely the driver.
We will have more information on this story tonight on the 23 News at 5 and 6.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A local woman is dead after police say she was killed while driving to a northeast side church early this morning. Officers tell us suspects breaking into cars at Holy Family Church tried to flee the scene and ended up crashing their car into the victim's minivan.
The crash happened just after noon on North Alpine and Brendenwood Roads.
Police say a Winnebago county sheriff's deputy driving in the area spotted a car possibly linked to several car burglaries at Holy Family Church, and potentially others in the area, as we reported this time last weekend.
That's when we're told the three suspects fled the scene and ended up crashing into the 58-year-old woman's car, killing her. The suspects remain in a local hospital, and are expected to survive.