Kavanagh defense attorney withdrawing from case

Shawn M. Kavanagh

One of the attorneys representing Shawn M. Kavanagh in a long-delayed murder trial is withdrawing from the case.

Kavanagh, 29, of Bellflower, is accused of killing two women and a child in a 2014 knife attack that left a fourth person seriously wounded. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Assistant public defender Matt Vigil on June 1 filed a request to be released from the case, stating that he had left the Missouri Public Defender System as of May 31. The request is in the hands of St. Charles Circuit Judge Ted House, awaiting an official ruling.

Kavanagh’s trial is scheduled to begin in October. Previous departures among Kavanagh’s public defenders have caused numerous delays of the trial date, citing the need for new attorneys to become familiar with the case.

However, in his request to withdraw from the case, Vigil observes that two public defenders remain assigned to Kavanagh. Attorney David Kenyon was assigned to the case in mid-2019, and fellow public defense attorney Julie Clark joined in February of this year.

Kavanagh’s remaining attorneys have not sought a further extension to the trial date.

Kavanagh is accused of a February 2014 knife attack south of Jonesburg that killed Tara Lynn Fifer, 22, of Montgomery City, Lexy Vandiver, 29, and her son, Mason Vandiver, 7, both of Jonesburg. He also is accused of severely wounding his estranged wife, Jessica N. Powell.

Kavanagh has pleaded not guilty to nine felony charges: three counts of first-degree murder, four counts of armed criminal action, and single charges of first-degree domestic assault and first-degree burglary.

There have been numerous postponements in Kavanagh’s case over the years. Most recently, two trial dates in 2020 have been moved, first because of defense attorney turnover, then because COVID-19 made it impossible to hold jury selection.

Trial proceedings are currently scheduled to begin Oct. 5 in St. Charles County Circuit Court, with the jury selection process beginning in September. The jurors will be selected from an initial pool of 500 candidates.

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