Murder victim’s sister waited nine years to hear triple murderer found guilty

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – It was an emotional ending to a lengthy criminal case involving brutal Valentine’s Day stabbings. Shawn Kavanagh had initially asked a judge for a lesser charge than murder over his 2014 stabbing attack that killed three people.

FOX 2 was the only media station in the courtroom when the verdict was passed. It came after an agonizing wait of nine years.

“It was a relief,” said Haley Roberts. “I felt like Lexi, her son and my sister were all seen and heard.”

Roberts said she never gave up hope of justice in the murders that took the life of her sister Tara Fifer, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In February 2014, Kavanagh called 911 in Warren County and said he had stabbed four people. Three of them, including a 7-year-old child, died in the attack. His target was his then-wife, who survived. Kavanagh was arrested and charged almost immediately, but the case dragged through the court system.

Roberts spoke to FOX 2 about some of the unusual delays after a hearing last month.

“One of the judges passed away. One of his attorneys got pregnant once and just couldn’t stand the process,” Roberts said in February.

She said other delays were chosen by the defendant, such as the relocation that brought the murder case here to St. Charles County, an hour’s drive for Roberts and her family.

“It was stressful. There were a lot of emotions,” Roberts said. “I think we found out a lot more as a family than we knew before we walked into the courtroom.”

As for the fact, Kavanagh would be fighting for a second-degree murder conviction. FOX 2 spoke to Roberts about this before the judge’s verdict.

“It’s hard to be here today and know that the fate of his conviction depends on today’s response,” she said. “There have been many sleepless nights over the last few weeks just waiting.”

After a three-day trial this week, Judge Rebecca Navarro-McKelvey found Kavanagh guilty on nine counts — three counts of first-degree murder and six other counts of felonies related to Kavanagh’s stabbing rampage.

“It felt like a thousand pounds was taken away from me and my family,” Roberts said. “I mean, you could feel it throughout the courtroom; Everyone, like our shoulders, could finally fall and we could stop carrying that alone.

The next decision will be whether to execute Kavanagh. This phase will be played out in court next week.

“I won’t miss this. But it doesn’t matter how it goes, either way, it’s not going to bring my sister back,” Roberts said. “I’m glad he was sentenced the way he should be and it’s in God’s hands from now on. “ Murder victim’s sister waited nine years to hear triple murderer found guilty

Sarah Y. Kim

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