Driver in church van crash in court on robbery charges

Driver in church van crash in court on robbery charges


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The man blamed in a deadly crash involving a church van pleaded not guilty to charges from an unrelated robbery.

Tyler Schaeffer entering the plea in federal court on Tuesday.

Judge Clifford Shirley agreed that Schaeffer did not have money to hire an attorney.

Schaeffer faces federal robbery charges, plus drug conspiracy and firearms charges.

According to the indictment, Schaeffer robbed the Subway on Chapman Highway in Seymour on August 11 of last year.

Jerel Johnson, 20, and Rodney Ruffin were also indicted in the case and have pleaded not guilty.

Schaeffer was arraigned back in December on two counts of vehicular homicide in connection to the Sept. 16 crash.

Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators said he was at the wheel of the SUV that crashed into the van from Cedar Grove Baptist Church.

Schaeffer was on probation at the time.

The crash killed Youth Pastor Jeff Trussell and 16-year-old Courteney Kaliszewski.

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