Crimetracker: Suspect in fatal church van crash pleads in robberies

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A young Sevierville man, charged in a fatal crash with a church van, has pleaded guilty in an earlier robbery scheme.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, 21-year-old Tyler Schaeffer entered his plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court to nine of 14 charges filed against him and two other men.

His attorney told Judge Tom Varlan that Schaeffer intends to go to trial on the other five counts to prove he wasn't armed. The maximum penalty on the gun charges alone could put Schaeffer in prison for 107 years.

Schaeffer is charged in Sevier County with vehicular homicide in a crash last year that killed 45-year-old Jeffrey Trussell and 16-year-old Courteney Kaliszewski. The victims were aboard a church van returning to Blount County from a youth retreat.

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