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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder-for-hire
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 1, 2009
Date of arrest: April 1, 2009
Date of birth: 1976
Victim profile: Michelle Lee Kitterman, 25 (her husband's pregnant mistress)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife (39 times)
Location: Tonasket, Okanogan County, Washington, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on November 23, 2010

Hirst-Pavek murder appeal turned back by court

By Jefferson Robbins -

June 12, 2012

SPOKANE — An appellate court on Tuesday turned down the appeal of Lacey K. Hirst-Pavek, convicted two years ago in the murder-for-hire of her husband’s pregnant mistress.

Hirst-Pavek, 36, was convicted of aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison. She was the last of four defendants to be tried and found guilty in the murder of Michelle Kitterman, 25, who was beaten and stabbed to death on a remote road outside of Tonasket.

The March 2009 murder was carried out by a Spokane drug dealer and two subordinates Hirst-Pavek hired to kill Kitterman, who was 11 weeks pregnant. The manslaughter charge was applied to the death of the fetus.

Hirst-Pavek appealed her conviction the day after she was sentenced, claiming prosecutorial misconduct and a breach of privacy in collecting some evidence used against her at trial. She argued Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan misstated the law during his closing argument, when he told the jury it wasn’t necessary to prove intent to convict Hirst-Pavek of murder.

The Washington Court of Appeals ruled that because Hirst-Pavek was tried as an accomplice to murder, proof of intent wasn’t needed for conviction — “solely that she knew her actions would facilitate the crime of murder.”

The murder was carried out by Spokane methamphetamine dealer Tansy Mathis and two underlings, David E. Richards and Brent Phillips. Mathis and Richards were convicted of first- and second-degree murder, while Phillips pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and testified against the other three defendants.

Hirst-Pavek also said records of her employment and car rental records were unlawfully seized without warrant. The appellate court found there was no expectation of privacy for either type of record, and noted that several witnesses testified to Hirst-Pavek’s work hours and her rental of a car, which was used by the killers to drive Kitterman to the murder site.

Finally, Hirst-Pavek’s appeal argued that she should not have been convicted of manslaughter, in part because the term of “unborn quick child,” applied at trial to Kitterman’s baby, is unconstitutionally vague. The term is used to describe a fetus developed enough to move within the womb.

The appeals court said she did not provide any legal citations for her argument.


Hirst-Pavek sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole

By Emily Hanson -

December 2, 2010

OKANOGAN - Lacey Kae Hirst-Pavek was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday, Nov. 23 in Okanogan Superior Court for the murder of Michelle Kitterman and 126 months in prison for the manslaughter of Kitterman's unborn child.

Along with the prison sentence, Hirst-Pavek was order to pay $13,992.50 jointly and severally with the other convicted murderers in this case, Tansy Mathis, David Richards and Brent Phillips, as restitution to the Kitterman family and $860.50 in court fees.

Before Hirst-Pavek's sentence was declared by Douglas County Superior Court Judge John Hotchkiss, members of Kitterman's family and their family advocate spoke to the court about Kitterman's life and the affect her murder has had on their family.

"To completely express the impact of this on my family is overwhelming and quite frankly impossible," Malinda Kitterman, Michelle's older sister said. "I will be mourning the loss of my sister for the rest of my life. Nathan, Michelle's son, will never know how amazing and caring his mother was. Because of the viciousness of the defendant's actions, I will mourn the loss of myself. I was born on March 1, 1978 and my sister was beaten and stabbed to death on March 1, 2009. I will never forgive the defendant for taking my sister from my family and me."

Tracy Kitterman, Michelle's mother, than addressed the court.

"Today, I am joyous there is justice, but I also have a bleeding in my heart," she said. "For the families: Lacey, your daughter will grow up without you. I do not hate the Hirst family and I pray I can forgive you someday."

Her mom spoke about the premature birth of Michelle on May 12, 1983, about 20 minutes before her twin sister, Danielle, and about how active Michelle was as a child.

"Michelle was the girly-girl," her mother said. "She was involved in plays, talent shows and band. She was very active."

She said Michelle had many modeling jobs in her life and she walked the runway and made the turns as though she'd been doing it her whole life.

"She could have made a career in modeling but she chose to have her son and raise him instead," she said. "Michelle was a wonderful mother and she was head-over-heels in love with her son."

Her mother said Michelle was not always involved in drugs but when she started using them, it put her in contact with people who did not care about her.

"I am angry, full of hate, frightened and constantly confused," the victim's mom said. "I have a huge hole in my life and I'm not sure how to start anew. I can't breathe and it feels like something heavy is on my chest when I have a panic attack. I have nightmares and they do not stop when I am awake. I am depressed 99 percent of the time. I only wish Lacey had been able to inform me this was disturbing her and her marriage because I would have done everything I could have to help."

She compared the end of Hirst-Pavek's trial to losing her daughter for the third time, since she had to relive her murder for the third time.

"I have to learn how to live again," she said. "Like a baby, I have to relearn how to do the simplest things. I realize life is too short. We tend to take the simplest things for granted and I want to live the rest of my years in the best way possible."

The final speaker before Judge Hotchkiss gave Hirst-Pavek her sentence was Jim Huffman, victim advocate from Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims.

"It would be easy to make the assumption that this family is vindictive," he said. "But it would be equally wrong. Far overriding the anger they are feeling is the emotional pain they are feeling."

Huffman spoke about Michelle's son, Nathan, and how he will grow up without his mother and will never know the child who would have been his younger brother. He said Nathan would be reminded of his mother at every birthday and every time he looks at his Aunt Danielle.

"When the trials began, I explained to the Kitterman family three things about them," Huffman said. "Number one was that they likely wouldn't have any sense of justice because they can never get Michelle back. Number two was they will likely never have closure because we don't forget about our loved one and we don't want anyone else to forget about them either. Finally, I told them they likely will never find out why this all happened because only Lacey and her associates know the complete story. One major thing that happens today is this process comes to an end and will give the family an opportunity to proceed with their grieving."

Hirst-Pavek was given an opportunity to speak before being sentenced, but did not take it. After Hotchkiss handed down a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for her conviction of aggravated murder in the first degree and 126 months in prison for her conviction of aggravated manslaughter in the first degree and her attorney, Ron Hammett, requested a restitution hearing, he spoke directly to Hirst-Pavek.

"I don't know what to say," he said. "I don't really understand any of this. As harsh as the sentence you've received, it is nothing to the sentence you've brought down on your family and the Kitterman family."


Kitterman relatives speak to court; Hirst-Pavek gets life sentence

By Al Camp -

November 23, 2010

OKANOGAN - A packed courtroom heard from murder victim Michelle Lee Kitterman's mother and older sister before Lacey Kae Hirst-Pavek was sentenced Nov. 23 to life in prison without parole.

Hirst-Pavek was found guilty Nov. 16 of aggravated first-degree murder for the stabbing death of Kitterman and manslaughter for the death of her unborn child.

Hirst-Pavek was sentenced to life in prison without parole, a mandated sentence, then heard how murder tore at the fabric of the tightly knit Kitterman family.

Kitterman, 25, was found dead on remote Stalder Road west of Crumbacher on March 1, 2009. She suffered 39 stab wounds.

Following a trial that started Nov. 1, Hirst-Pavek was found guilty as an accomplice to the murder after it was shown she'd contacted "Tonasket" Tansy Fae-Arven Mathis, 30, and rented her a vehicle to fetch someone from Spokane to beat up Kitterman.

Kitterman was pregnant with Danny Pavek's child. Pavek is Hirst-Pavek's husband.

Brent "Hollywood" L. Phillips, 38, admitted in a plea agreement that he'd landed the fatal blow to Kitterman. He testified against Mathis and David E. Richards, 34, who were found guilty in April in Kitterman's murder.

Mathis, who with Phillips took Kitterman to the remote road and killed her, was sentenced to life sentence without parole.

Richards, who supplied the murder weapon, was sentenced to 22 years.

After Hirst-Pavek was sentenced, Phillips was sentenced in a separate courtroom to 26 years. The sentence matched what the state requested in a plea agreement.

"You forced me to live a life I don't recognize, a life I don't know," Kitterman's sister, Melinda, said to Hirst-Pavek. More than 30 others packed the courtroom.

Melinda Kitterman said the death affected her service in the Navy. She was in Iraq when she learned of her sister's death.

She also described memories of her sister, including snuggling with her son Nathan, now 7.

"I'm still in shock and disbelief that his could happen to my sister," she said. "I will never forgive you for taking my sister, my beautiful sister."

Tracy Jo Kitterman, the deceased's mother, said there was a "bleeding in my heart" for her family and the Hirst-Pavek family.

She described how her daughter was born three weeks early May 12, 1983, in Richland. Michelle Kitterman was four pounds, 10 ounces and was about 20 minutes ahead of her twin sister, Danielle. Both girls fought breathing problems early in their lives, and Tracy Kitterman said that kept her from getting much sleep.

Tracy Kitterman said she had nightmares of one of her daughters dying, which happened a lot right up to the time Michelle Kitterman died.

She told how she could still see and hear her daughter, who was active in plays, band and sports. Michelle Kitterman also enjoyed outdoor activities, including riding her dirt bike.

"She was a busy kid," Tracy Kitterman said.

The family moved a couple times, with Michelle Kitterman making ends meet with jobs including catering, making submarine sandwiches, and being a receptionist, bartender, waitress and model.

"She looked like she'd modeled all her life," Tracy Kitterman said of her daughter's first modeling job. "She would light up any room."

Michelle Kitterman did not pursue a modeling career, though she'd worked in Seattle and Washington, D.C. Instead, she worked on raising her son.

"She was head over heels in love with her son, Nathan," Tracy Kitterman said.

Tracy Kitterman, who said later she often spoke from her heart while addressing the court, said her daughter had not always used drugs.

Testimony and evidence at trial showed Michelle Kitterman had smoked methamphetamine the night of her death.

"But with drugs she came in contact with people who didn't care about her," her mother said.

Tracy Kitterman said she was angry and confused over her daughter's death and often loses her train of thought, has panic attacks and constant depression while worrying about running into friends or family of Hirst-Pavek.

"I never knew I could cry so much," she said, as an aunt and Melinda Kitterman sobbed in the audience.

She said each of the trials made her feel she was losing her daughter again, as she viewed murder scene photos and clothing from the fatal night.

"It's too painful," she said. "I have to learn to live again."

Kitterman said this summer she was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which was operated on in October just prior to the trial. She missed several days of the trial because she did not feel well following the operation.

She vowed to live on, to take care of herself and her grandson.

"With love, this is to my baby. May angels carry you into a world of no pain suffering," she said.

Jim Huffman, a victim's advocate from Wenatchee who was often at the trial, said Daniel Pavek ultimately will be held accountable for his part in Kitterman's death.

Jack Owen Spillman III killed Huffman's wife and daughter in 1995 in their East Wenatchee home. Spillman later pleaded guilty to killing 9-year-old Penny Davis in Okanogan County in a previously unsolved case.

During Mathis and Richards' sentencing in May, Douglas County Superior Court Judge T.W. "Chip" Small said the Huffman case was the only other one he'd heard that was more horrific than Kitterman's murder.

Huffman said no amount of justice could bring back Kitterman, that loved ones would never forget the woman with the quick smile, and no one would ever learn why all this happened.

"We got a glimpse of why, but only Lacey knows and those she associated with," Huffman said.

Hirst-Pavek, dressed in burgundy jail garb, listened as Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan outlined the mandatory life sentence and 126 months for first-degree manslaughter of an unborn child, the maximum sentence.

Hirst-Pavek was ordered to pay jointly and severally with Phillips, Mathis and Richards restitution of $13,992.50. She also must pay $860.50 in court costs.

"I don't understand any of this," Douglas County Superior Court Judge John Hotchkiss said.

Hotchkiss said Hirst-Pavek's sentence was harsh, but not as harsh as what Kitterman and Hirst-Pavek's families were going through.

Hirst-Pavek did not give a statement when offered the opportunity.

During Phillips' sentencing, his attorney, Alan White, said his client was the only one of the four who stepped forward to take responsibility for Kitterman's death. White said there was an incentive for a reduced sentence by doing so, and that Phillips had fulfilled all terms of the agreement.

White said Phillips grew up around Los Angeles, that he'd worked in construction and landscaping before moving with a girlfriend to Spokane. White said Phillips was a father in Spokane.

In late 2008 he became involved with methamphetamine.

"His life was a mess, he struggled day to day," White said.

Phillips came to the Okanogan County to beat up a drug snitch.

"The murder has bothered him ever since," White said.

White said Phillips did not want to give a statement, as he felt if the roles were reversed he'd not want to hear from him.

"She is in heaven and he was not going to that place," White said.

Phillips did address the court, saying "If I could do it over again it would not have happened. I'm sorry."

Hotchkiss said he could not sentence Phillips to anything that would come close to what Phillips had done to the Kitterman family.

"They will have to live with this their entire lives," he said.

The judge said the value of a plea bargain may not be apparent to Kitterman's family.

Hotchkiss said Phillips took the agreement to save his own rear end.

Mathis and Richards both filed appeals. Briefs have yet to be filed. Phillips and Hirst-Pavek have 30 days from sentencing to file appeals, which are expected.

As the small jail courtroom cleared, Tracy Kitterman hugged lead detective Mike Murray.

"You are my hero," she said.

Murray, along with detectives Kreg Sloan and Debbie Behymer, worked the case.

Kitterman family members planned to have a dinner together Tuesday, where they would bid goodbye to Melinda, who is returning to Virginia and her Navy career.


Hirst-Pavek guilty of first degree murder

November 18, 2010

WATERVILLE – The jury in the murder trial of Lacey Hirst-Pavek reached a guilty verdict just before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16 after beginning deliberations at 9 a.m.

Hirst-Pavek was on trial for her involvement in the murder of Michelle Kitterman during the early morning hours of March 1, 2009. Kitterman’s family, mother Tracy, twin sister Danielle and older sister Melinda were in Douglas County Superior Court along with other family and friends to hear the verdict.

At 2:15 p.m., Judge John Hotchkiss announced the jury’s guilty verdict for Hirst-Pavek’s charges of first degree premeditated murder and first degree manslaughter of an unborn quick child. Hirst-Pavek’s parents and assorted family members were also in the courtroom when she was declared guilty of all charges, including the aggravated circumstances of an accomplice using a deadly weapon and knowing the victim was pregnant before the crime was committed.

Hirst-Pavek is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 1:30 p.m. in Okanogan County by Hotchkiss. The maximum sentence she faces is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

When Defense Attorney Ron Hammett had Hotchkiss pool the jury, all 12 members stated the verdict was their personal verdict, the verdict of the entire jury and the jury’s verdict for all counts and special circumstances.

“We’re so relieved right now I can’t even express it,” Melinda Kitterman said. “It’s nice to know she’s going to pay for her crimes.”

The State rested their case on Friday, Nov. 12, finishing up their presentation of evidence to the jury with a detailed examination of phone records between Hirst-Pavek and convicted murderer Tansy Mathis from Feb. 25 through March 3.

When Hammett began presenting the defense’s case on Monday, Nov. 15, he called just one witness to the stand, Dr. John Butt, a forensic pathologist from Vancouver, B.C. who testified about information he read in two books regarding quickening. He also testified this past spring during the trial for Mathis and convicted murderer David Richards.

The trial began on Monday, Nov. 1 with jury selection and though it was expected to last three weeks, the jury was given the case at 4 p.m. on Nov. 15 after the prosecution and defense attorneys gave their closing statements.

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 statements that she wanted Kitterman “taken care of.”

Through an investigation, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department determined that 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.

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, Mathis and Richards received their sentencing for the guilty verdicts brought down on them 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.

The sentencing for Phillips, who plead guilty 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 on Monday, March 29, has been continued by council and has not yet been scheduled.


Lacey K. Hirst-Pavek at her 2010 sentencing in the murder plot
against Michelle Kitterman.
(K.C. Mehaffey/


The victim

Michelle Lee Kitterman, 25.



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