Driver in deadly hit-and-run sentenced to 6 years in prison

Driver in deadly hit-and-run sentenced to 6 years in prison »Play Video
Ashley Chavez was sentenced to more than six years in prison on Monday, Nov. 5. (KATU Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A 23-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to more than six years in prison in the hit-and-run death of a 63-year-old woman in March.

Ashley Chavez changed her manslaughter plea to guilty. She admitted to driving drunk during the crash and hiding with the help of family and friends.

Chavez will lose her driver's license for life after her prison sentence.

Nancy Schoeffler, 63, was killed at about 11:20 p.m. on March 31 after being struck near the 2800 block of West Burnside where the street climbs into the West Hills area.

"I will forever live with this weight on my shoulders and deep regret," said Chavez in a written statement read by the judge. Chavez wept in the courtroom during the hearing.

Schoeffler's family members declined to make a statement in court. They wore white roses in Nancy's memory.

"A lot of mixed emotions right now, and I'm happy to, for us to move on in our healing process," said Nancy's daughter Solara Schoeffler. "She said goodbye to her mother and she loved her. I wish I could do the same."

Investigators said that Schoeffler was crossing West Burnside Street on foot when she was struck by a vehicle that fled the area westbound on Burnside. She died at the scene.

Police said tips led them to the car’s passenger, 43-year-old Angela Dawn Kaps-Collins. She was arrested in Beaverton in May.

Monday, Kaps-Collins was sentenced to three years of probation. Prosecutors said she helped them build their case against Chavez.

Kaps-Collins’ husband, Billy Eugene Collins, Jr., turned himself in to the Corbett Fire Station in early June, police said.

According to court documents, police accused Collins Jr. of hindering their investigation and covering up evidence related to the damage to the Honda that police said Chavez was driving when she hit Schoeffler.

Collins, Jr. pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Chavez was arrested in June by U.S. Marshalls in Bellingham, Wash. Investigators said she was trying to run to Canada.

Other persons arrested in the case are 28-year-old Christopher Michael Rhea (Ashely’s boyfriend), 24-year-old Josh Chavez (her brother) and Jose Alberto Torres (her co-worker).

Rhea pleaded guilty Monday to hindering the prosecution and was sentenced to three years probation.

"I just want to apologize to everyone in the courtroom. Especially the family," Rhea said.

Josh Chavez also pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of hindering prosecution and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Torres pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence. Prosecutors said Torres was the "least involved" with the crime. He was sentenced to 2 years of probation.

The prosecution said Chavez’s five co-defendants in the case were offered plea deals because they cooperated with the investigation after hindering the prosecution.

KATU's Bob Heye contributed to this story.