A St. Charles County judge on Friday declared a verdict that family and friends of Tara Fifer, Lexy Vandiver and Mason Vandiver have known in their hearts for nine years: That Shawn Kavanagh is …
A St. Charles County judge on Friday declared a verdict that family and friends of Tara Fifer, Lexy Vandiver, Mason Vandiver and Jessica Powell have known in their hearts for nine years: That Shawn Kavanagh is guilty of first-degree murder, with no defense that excuses his actions.
Judge Rebeca Navarro-McKelvey delivered verdicts for nine felony charges in brief, direct statements during a Friday afternoon hearing that lasted less than 5 minutes. The rulings follow three days of testimony and argument earlier this week, at a trial that’s finally happening after years of delays.
Kavanagh has been awaiting trial since he was arrested in February 2014 and charged with the murders of Tara Fifer, Lexy Vandiver and Mason Vandiver, as well as the severe wounding of Jessica Powell, and four counts of armed criminal action and one charge of burglary.
As the family members and close friends Kavanagh’s victims heard the verdict and then began exiting the St. Charles County courtroom, it was as if they were finally allowed to let out the emotions that they had been holding back throughout the three days of Kavanagh’s trial. They didn’t make it to a private room that had been set aside for them before they began to cry with a mix of sorrow and relief. They hugged and told each other that this long ordeal is nearly over.
Several family members also took a moment to thank Prosecuting Attorney Kelly King for the work she has done in this case. King was elected as Warren County’s head prosecutor in November of 2014, inheriting the Kavanagh case and now taking it to a verdict.
But the trial for Kavanagh isn’t quite over. Hearings will resume on Monday for the sentencing phase, in which Prosecutor King and Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner will argue for the death penalty. On the other side, attorneys for the Missouri Public Defender system will attempt to convince Judge Navarro-McKelvey that Kavanagh should be allowed to live out his life in prison.