TONASKET – The defense attorney for one of the defendants in the Michelle Kitterman murder trial has requested a change of venue for the trial.
Stephen T. Graham, the defense attorney for Tansy Mathis, recently filed a motion for change of venue to move the trial of Mathis from Okanogan County down to Chelan County.
“I think jurors down in Chelan County will be able to better separate what they have heard in the news media and what they hear in trial,” Graham said. “I think Okanogan County jurors will have a harder time setting aside preconceived notions. Since Karl Sloan has asked for a Chelan County judge on the grounds that an Okanogan County judge would be prejudice, we could ask for a Chelan County jury, too.”
Prosecuting Attorney Karl Sloan said he filed the motion for the out of county judge at the time of the arraignment and the issue of an out of county jury is usually decided at the time of jury selection if an unbiased jury can not be found within the county of the case.
As of Monday, March 15, the issue was set to be heard in front of a judge on Tuesday, March 16, although Sloan said the decision to move a trial out of county is usually made when the jury selection process has started and an impartial jury can not be found.
On Sunday, March 1, 2009, 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 with Daniel Pavek, the husband of Lacey Hirst-Pavek.
According to court documents, Kitterman was having an affair with Pavek and was pregnant with his child. Hirst-Pavek allegedly made statements that she wanted Kitterman “taken care of.”
An Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department investigation determined Hirst-Pavek eventually made contact with Mathis regarding Kitterman and over several meetings, in Okanogan County and Spokane, they came to an agreement for Mathis to take care of Kitterman for $500.
Mathis was arrested in Spokane on March 26, 2009 and Brent Phillips was arrested in Seattle on the same day. David Richards turned himself in to the Spokane Police Department on April 5, 2009 after a warrant for his arrest was issued on March 31, 2009. On April 2, 2009, Hirst-Pavek was released on bail after being arrested on March 31, 2009.
Mathis, Richards and Phillips are all charged with Aggravated First Degree Murder, Aggravated First Degree Manslaughter and First Degree Kidnapping. Mathis and Phillips are also being charged with First Degree Tampering with Physical Evidence. They are all being held in Okanogan County Jail for $1 million bail. Hirst-Pavek is charged with First Degree Murder and First Degree Manslaughter. All four defendants have pled not guilty to all charges. Mathis and Richards have been consolidated into one trial while Phillips and Hirst-Pavek will each be tried separately.
As of press time, Mathis, Richards and Hirst-Pavek were set to begin their trials on Tuesday, April 6. Phillips is set to begin his trial on Friday, April 16.