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Apr-14-2014 18:34printcommentsVideo

Murderer Josh Cavett has his Day in Court

Whether it be a plea for 25 years or "True Life", Cavett is going up the river.

Josh Cavett in custody
Murderer walks to the courtroom. Josh Cavett is looking at 25 years or more for killing his estranged wife. Photo by Bonnie King

(PORTLAND, OR) - Almost exactly 6 months after he committed murder, Josh Cavett went before Multnomah County Judge LaBarre and the District Attorney today to formally present his prospective plea deal.

On October 12th, 2013, Josh Cavett shot his 27-year old estranged wife at point blank in front of her two little girls, leaving the 5-year old to call for help. He snatched their 2-year old from the scene and put her at extreme risk, setting off an Amber Alert, until he was arrested.

Tragically, Jessie Cavett died a few hours later. The man she was divorcing, and had gotten a Restraining Order against to protect her and the children, has been in custody since late that same October night. Cavett gave himself up, telling the police “I just killed someone.” The toddler was unharmed.

The family met with the DA recently and expressed in every which way that they do not want the plea deal to be accepted.

“I want him to go to trial. I want him to have to face the music for what he did, and that’s in front of a jury,” said Mike Kondash, brother of the murder victim.

“If he gets his way, he’ll be able to be paroled at about the exact time Jessie’s girls are the age she was, when he killed her,” said Kondash. “That’s just wrong.”

Here is the deal: Josh Cavett is willing to plead guilty only to Murder I with a “life sentence without parole”. That is, “life” equals 25 years. Twenty five years is unacceptable to the family, and to the many advocates around the world who are working to prevent and overcome Domestic Violence.

Women’s advocacy groups, friends and supporters wore purple shirts and special “Jessie” bracelets as dozens gathered outside the court house.

“I don’t want Jessie’s girls to be afraid that someday he’ll get out,” said one supporter.

Jennie Cochran, the victim’s sister, said, “The best case scenario is that the plea is refused, and no agreement is made. We want one that goes to trial.”

Jessie Cavett

“The only "deal" that will have my full support is True life or the Death penalty... part of me goes more for True Life, let him suffer in there while we all have to suffer out here.”

"True-life" is a sentencing option of life imprisonment without possibility of parole. It was added to ORS 163.150(5) in 1989; the amendment allows a jury to consider the true-life sentencing option in a penalty-phase retrial of a defendant sentenced to death after December 6, 1984. A death sentence would be an option if Cavett went to trial, so would true-life.

It all got started at 9:00 am. They didn’t know if Josh would be a part of the proceedings, but it was a possibility. Though the DA had told the family that they "want to do this fast”, once they were seated they were told that it would likely take all day. Judge Jerome LaBarre would be hearing the District Attorney, Cavett, and Jessie’s family, privately, in rotation.

Cavett arrived for his appearance with the Judge just after 10; the first time he has been seen by the victim’s family since the murder.

There is a long litany of charges against Cavett including kidnapping and burglary, and this avenue for him would eliminate all but the “Murder I” charge.

"I'm sorry, but Jessie's life is worth more than 25 years," said Cochran. "His charge should at least be Aggravated Murder. This was premeditated, this was planned, he went over to Jessie's place planning to kill her."

Contrary to some reports, I did not witness any discussion about the victim’s family not wanting to go to trial. The DA made comments earlier to the family about “keeping the five-year old off the stand”, which avoiding a trial would do. Their concern for the child is worthy, but perhaps unfounded.

In fact, in pressing for this plea deal to be acceptable to the family, the DA’s office said to Jennie, “I don’t think anyone’s asking themselves what Jessie wants.”

Astonished that anyone could believe that, she told me, “I think about what Jessie wants every single day. Jessie wants justice.

We wait to see the outcome: either the DA will say “Yes, they accept it”, or “No, they do not”. If the DA accepts his deal they want to move right into sentencing.

In the end, this isn’t only about Josh Cavett and how he is punished for his insurmountable crime. Multnomah County will itself be judged by this case; how they deal with this level of Domestic Violence is a direct reflection of their concern for the health and safety for women and children, start to finish.


Video by Bonnie King

BACKGROUND: Oregon Mother of Two Shot and Killed by Estranged Husband

UPDATE: Oregon Amber Alert Cancelled for Missing Two Year Old

Phone Stolen from Child of Murder Victim on Christmas Night



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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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