OKANOGAN – The final trial in the murder of Michelle Kitterman has been continued until Monday, Nov. 1 and moved to Douglas County.
Lacey Hirst-Pavek will be tried on charges of first degree premeditated murder and first degree manslaughter that are the results of her alleged involvement in the murder of Kitterman and her unborn child in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 1, 2009.
In the defense’s motion, according to court documents, they said venue should be changed “because of the extended coverage by the local newspapers of the trail, testimony, arguments of counsel, conviction and sentencing of Ms. Mathis where Ms. Hirst-Pavek was mentioned and implicated by several of those reports.”
The court believed that it is a close question and that due process required the trial be moved from the Okanogan County and moved to Douglas County.
“Given all the pre-trial publicity, there was a reasonable chance she couldn’t receive a fair trial in Okanogan County,” Ron Hammett, Hirst-Pavek’s defense attorney, said. “We asked to move the trial to the west side of the state, but the judge decided on Douglas County.”
The movement of the trial from courthouse in Okanogan to the courthouse in Waterville was one the prosecution opposed.
“There are nine factors to be considered when moving a trial,” Jennifer Richardson, prosecuting attorney, said. “We felt they were not present and that it was premature to move the trial because we feel you can’t determine a jury is biased until you try to find an unbiased jury.”
According to court documents, Kitterman was having an affair with Hirst-Pavek’s husband, Daniel Pavek, and was pregnant with his child. Hirst-Pavek allegedly made comments that she wanted Kitterman “taken care of.”
Through their investigation, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department determined that Hirst-Pavek eventually made contact with Tansy Mathis regarding Kitterman and over several meetings, in Okanogan County and Spokane, came to an agreement for Mathis to take care of Kitterman for $500.
On March 1, the body of Kitterman was found in a driveway in the Pine Creek area south of Tonasket. According to court documents the autopsy’s preliminary results indicated the cause of death was homicidal violence and that Kitterman was about 11 weeks pregnant.
On Tuesday, May 11, two suspects in the crime, Tansy Mathis and David Richards, received their sentencing for the guilty verdicts reached by an Okanogan County jury at the end of April.
Mathis received the top range of sentencing for her crimes. On count one, aggravated murder in the first degree, Mathis received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. On count two, first degree manslaughter of an unborn child, she received the top range of a sentence of 78 to 102 months plus an additional 24 month enhancement for possession of a deadly weapon. For count three, kidnapping in the first degree, Mathis received the top range of a sentence of 51 to 68 months plus an additional 24 month enhancement for possession of a deadly weapon. Finally, for count four, tampering with physical evidence, she received one year.
For Richards’ first count of second degree murder, he received a mid-range sentence of a 165 to 265 month sentence range, which comes to 215 months plus an additional 24 month enhancement for possession of a deadly weapon. For his conviction of manslaughter of an unborn child, Richards was sentenced a mid-range sentence from the range of 111 to 147 months plus an additional 24 month enhancement for possession of a deadly weapon.
A fourth suspect in Kitterman’s murder, Brent “Hollywood” Phillips, testified in the trials of Mathis and Richards. Phillips pled guilty on March 29 to premeditated murder in the first degree, manslaughter of a quick child in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree and tampering with physical evidence. His sentencing has been continued by council and has not yet been scheduled.