Jury finds Tansy Mathis guilty of first degree murder

Tansy Fae Arwen Mathis and David Eugene Richards sit behind the defense table during their murder trial for the killing of Michelle Kitterman, a 25-year-old pregnant Oroville woman, at the end of February 2009. Photo by Emily Hanson

Tansy Fae Arwen Mathis and David Eugene Richards sit behind the defense table during their murder trial for the killing of Michelle Kitterman, a 25-year-old pregnant Oroville woman, at the end of February 2009. Photo by Emily Hanson

OKANOGAN – After less than 24-hours in deliberations, the jury for the Michelle Kitterman murder trial has found Tansy Fae Arwen Mathis and David Eugene Richards guilty.

On April 22 at around 11 p.m., the jury found Mathis, 30 of Tonasket and Spokane, guilty of aggravated first degree murder, first degree manslaughter of an unborn child, first degree kidnapping and tampering with evidence, Sheriff Frank Rogers said. Richards, 34, Spokane, was found guilty of second degree murder and first degree manslaughter plus the enhancement of being armed.

A third suspect, Brent Lane Phillips, 39 of Spokane, pled guilty earlier to first degree murder and testified at the trial. The fourth suspect, Lacey K. Hirst-Pavek, 35 of Tonasket, is scheduled to begin her trial on July 6.

Kitterman, who was around 11 weeks pregnant, was known to have been having an affair with Hirst-Pavek’s husband, Daniel Pavek, and was pregnant with his child. On March 1, 2009, her body was found in a driveway off of Stalder Road south of Tonasket with stab wounds in her abdomen, back and arms.

Throughout the trial, the focus of the prosecution’s case was that Mathis, Richards and Phillips had been hired by Hirst-Pavek to rough-up and scare Kitterman so she would miscarry her child and that killing her would get them more money.

The defense argued that Mathis, a self-confessed drug dealer, was friends with Pavek and Hirst-Pavek and felt bad for providing Pavek with the drugs that attracted Kitterman to him. The plan, the defense said, was to go to Kitterman and buy her off with drugs to get her to stay away from Pavek and that Mathis brought Richards with her for protection, since she was a woman traveling alone with drugs. When Richards was unable to make the trip, the defense claimed Phillips volunteered to travel with Mathis and that he was attracted to Kitterman. Phillips, high on methamphetamine, tried to rape Kitterman and killed her in a rage, the defense said.

Mathis testified that she was terrified of Phillips after this and that was why she didn’t tell anyone what he’d done. She said he had made threats against her and her daughter and that she was also in shock. Richards’ attorney, Anthony Frey, based his case on the fact that Richards had not left Spokane that weekend and there was no evidence connecting him to the scene of the crime. Phillips even testified that Richards had not gone on the trip.

The verdict came less than 12 hours after the jury heard closing arguments from Karl Sloan, the prosecuting attorney, Frey and Steve Graham, Mathis’ attorney.

Full story in the upcoming Thursday, April 29 edition of the Gazette-Tribune.

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