ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – The fate of a man accused of killing an Abilene Christian University student on Thanksgiving weekend of 2016 is decided, and the victims parents are speaking out for the first time.
Twenty-one-year-old Casey Ellis was riding her bike when a driver struck and killed her at North Judge Ely Blvd. and Ambler Ave.
Charles Schaefer, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and driving while under the influence in conection to Ellis’ death. Monday morning, Judge Thomas Wheeler sentenced him to serve one year in jail with 10 years probation.
Monday afternoon, Casey’s family spoke out for the first time to KTAB cameras about the outpouring of support they received after her death and the special request the made in court. KTAB Reporter Kathleen Barkley sat down with her parents, Robert and Susan Myers to hear what they had to say.
The Myers say they want to make sure Schaefer doesn’t forget the pain he caused them. So, before entering the courtroom, they asked the judge one thing.
“Each year, on the anniversary of Casey’s death, the young man is to read the [victim impact] statements out loud to his probation officer,” Robert Myers explains.
Judge Thomas Wheeler granted this request.
“If he has to remember this every year on the year he struck and killed, horribly another human being and have to read it and remember my words and Rob’s words, he’ll remember,” Susan Myers says.
Casey’s parents say she was special. Her mother says she had a “calling” to work with “people and children with special needs.” Susan says her calling started from a young age. She babysat, volunteered to help children with special needs at her church, and even made a wish come true for a boy with Down Syndrome.
“His mom came by just in passing and said “Casey do you know anyone going into the junior prom?” And she said I’ll go with him,” Susan remembers.
She says Casey wasn’t one for proms and dances. But she did for this young man, because that’s the kind of person she was. Susan says Casey found a dress on clearance for $10 and made sure the young man had a great prom. When things got overwhelming, she took him to a quiet place to calm him down.
“When she wanted something, forget it, there was no ‘not going to do it,'” Susan says about Casey’s determination.
What Casey really wanted was to “go to Texas” and attend college at ACU. She moved from Connecticut to Texas and made that dream a reality, bringing her kind heart with her until her last day.
The night before Thanksgiving 2016, Casey just finished her shift at Cracker Barrel and was riding her bicycle to feed a dog she agreed to look after. That’s when she was struck and killed.
“We talk about all these good things she did,” Susan says. “She died doing the last good thing she volunteered to do.”
Susan says she learned more than she “ever dreamed after she died.” One example is the outpouring of support she and her husband received from both Abilene and their home in Connecticut. She says she received a large stack of cards “just telling stories about Casey, one being from Casey’s final customers she served at Cracker Barrel.
“We knew Casey and we were the last table she waited on last night at work,” Susan says.
Robert says he “just wants Casey back.” Although she’s gone, they hope having Schaefer read the victim impact statements each year will make him think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking. Furthermore, they hope he will warn other people to not make the same mistake he made
After Casey’s death, her friends created #KindnessForCasey, a campaign where they spread kindness and do things for people in Casey’s honor. ACU dedicated a plaque to Casey on campus.