Steven Paul Spencer entered a "no-contest" plea Tuesday morning in Muskegon County Circuit Court. Judge William Marietti said it would be treated as a guilty plea.
Spencer sat quietly between his parents while awaiting the hearing. He answered the judge’s questions, and said he understood the charge and the agreement.
Spencer was originally scheduled to go to trial, but decided to make the plea after an agreement was made with the judge to cap the minimum end of the sentence at three years and four months. The maximum penalty for what Spencer was charged with is 15 years in prison.
Spencer was charged with operating while impaired (drugs), causing death, after the June 16, 2012, crash on Heights-Ravenna Road, west of Ravenna.
Shumaker and his 10-year-old daughter, Madison, were returning home from a rained-out softball tournament in the area when Spencer pulled out to pass another vehicle and struck the Shumakers' car head-on.
John Shumaker died at the scene. Madison suffered minor injuries — but her mother, Amanda, said she is still suffering from emotional trauma.
Amanda and Madison Shumaker were present at Tuesday's court hearing.
“The final chapter is almost finished,” Amanda said after the hearing. “The healing can start after Aug. 13.”
Amanda said having her daughter in the courtroom was a step toward the girl's healing process.
“Now he is getting his consequences for killing my father,” Madison said. “I feel better hearing it from his mouth today. He killed my best friend.”
Amanda said both she and her daughter planned to speak at next month's sentencing.
Spencer remains free on bond. His parents would not comment after the hearing.