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Joshua Cavett is Guilty of Murder in the First DegreeBonnie King Salem-News.com
The nightmare of a man who murdered a mother in front of her children gets 28 years in Prison.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - “408 days. The family has suffered 408 days, waiting for the end of this torment. To finally lay their daughter, friend and sister to rest,” Christine Mascal, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney, said as the hearing began.
Josh Cavett killed his wife, Jessie Doyle Cavett, in cold blood. Now, over a year after he confessed and was arrested, an agreement has been made, and he will begin his sentence.
“Justice is not served,” said the victim’s mother, Judy Doyle. “No number of years is enough. If it wasn’t for the girls, we’d have gone Gung-ho.”
Taking this case to trial instead of accepting a plea deal would have given prosecutors the option of going after the death penalty, or at the least, aggravated murder. That was the hope, until recently.
Most of the victim's family members and others in attendance at Monday’s hearing believed a harsher sentence would have been more appropriate for the crime.
“True Life” was the goal last April, but the realities of a trial would have likely meant ongoing trauma for Jessie’s two young daughters, and preventing more harm was of utmost importance.
The end result is that Josh Cavett will be behind bars a very long time.
People that knew Jessie said she and Josh had a violent relationship. Jessie was clear with friends that she lived in fear of him, and she was in the process of getting a divorce. She had a Restraining Order against her estranged husband for over two months when he killed her.
On October 12, 2013, Josh Cavett went to Jessie’s apartment in body armor, reportedly pounded on the door until she opened it and then fired his weapon, point blank, into her head. Right in front of her two little girls. Then, he kidnapped the couple's 2-year-old daughter, and left the 5-year old alone with her fatally wounded mother.
The youngster was able to call a family friend for help, and the friend called police.
Jessie was rushed to OHSU and all efforts to save her were unsuccessful. She died late the night of October 12th, 2013.
Cavett and the toddler were located about 9 p.m. that evening, when he gave himself up to police without incident.
The sentence handed down Monday was the consequence of a plea agreement. 37-year old Cavett plead guilty to 3 counts, and the State agreed to dismiss the other 7 charges. He waved the 48-hour waiting period and they moved forward to sentencing.
He gave up the right to a jury or court trial, and the ability to challenge the indictment. He will not be able to appeal this sentence.
Cavett got “Life” for Murder 1, which in real time means 25 years, plus 36 months for being a felon with a firearm and 15 months for being a felon with body armor.
The stipulated sentence technically gives Cavett the chance to get out of prison after his sentence is served, but was reminded, “...it is only a possibility, not a guarantee,” said Judge Jean Kerr Maurer.
“And in the event that the parole board released you, you would remain on lifetime parole.”
Face to Face with the Murderer
Family and friends packed the hallway outside the courtroom and only about half of them were allowed into court, with a capacity of about 35 people.
“Jessie had a lot of friends, that was them,” said Jessie’s brother Mike Kondash, referring to the crowd. He was impressed with the turnout. “Everybody loved her.”
Joshua Cavett sat in leg chains, surrounded by his defense team, reviewing documents as the court filled with anxious, interested parties.
A large poster-sized photo of Jessie and her two girls taken shortly before her death was hung on the wall for the Court to see, and impossible for Cavett not to.
The victim’s family entered the court room first and sat together in the jury box, separate from the rest of the audience.
Heartwrenching from the start, Judy Doyle, Jessie’s mom, was in tears as she was seated. Being in the same room with the person that took her daughter’s life was a heavy load to bear. She had the support of her children, and they had hers.
Josh Cavett seemed only somewhat anxious, he took a few noticeable deep breaths, exhaling slowly, but never did his eye wander to the jury box and the family he betrayed.
It was an emotional court hearing, and all in attendance were personally invested.
Prosecutor Chris Mascal gave a “snapshot” of the events of that fateful day by reading from the report written by Gresham police Officer Jeff Durbin, first on the scene of the murder.
“The door was closed... I could hear a crying child inside. The door was unlocked. When I opened the door, I could see 2 bare feet and the door opened against the victim’s right hip. A small child was standing on the left side of the victim with a cell phone up to her right ear,” Officer Durbin wrote.
Jessie was barely alive, not conscious or alert. She was bleeding excessively from the head wound.
There was a small stuffed pink pig lying by Jessie’s head, and a lot of tissues scattered about. Her daughter had tried to help her mom, the best she knew how.
The 5-year old was very specific when she looked up and told officer Durbin, “I saw Josh shoot my mom with a gun. He killed her.”
Grief Follows Tragedy
Jessie’s oldest daughter now lives with her father, Brian Kinney. He was first to give a statement to the Court, sharing how this crime has impacted his daughter, and their lives.
“Every day she cries for her mom, every night she cries. She’s terrified of everybody - especially Josh,” Kinney said. “I am glad that she won’t ever have to see him.”
“We are a tight knit family. We will help raise his daughter. The girls see each other often which is kind of therapy for them both. Peyton has a loving family. I wonder if someday he’ll be sitting in a cell thinking, ‘What happens if my daughter meets someone like me?’"
Cavett was not moved, remaining stoic throughout the emotional testimony.
Jennie Cochran was Jessie’s little sister, the baby of the family.
She said, “Jessie was beautiful, and she fell in with the wrong person. He isolated her with himself. He needed that control... Forever, Jessie’s going to have a voice. The only one that lost a voice is Josh, and I’ll see him in 28 years.”
Jessie’s father said that no sentence could be long enough. "Whatever sentence comes down is never enough, the damage is beyond words," said John Doyle. “I hope he knows what he did to these girls.”
Judy Doyle, Jessie’s mother, stood and faced the Judge. Cavett did not look up.
“He not only took away two little girls’ mom, but a daughter, a best friend, a sister. He took life away, not just Jessie’s life.
She talked about Jessie’s youngest daughter, who is now 3 years old. “She remembers dancing with her mom. She kisses my tattoo (of Jessie) and says ‘Mommy is a special angel in Heaven, she is always in our hearts’.”
“Jessie is always with us. She’s brought together so many that he (Cavett) pulled apart.” As for the length of Cavett’s sentence, she said, “It’s not enough numbers, it could never be enough.”
This plea agreement and sentencing hearing is expected to bring closure to those most affected. To that, Jessie’s mother says, “The door will never be closed.”
Cavett Makes a Last Statement
Cavett’s attorney, Gordon Mallon, said he wanted to avoid a trial to spare the children more pain. He had many positive things to say about his client. He attempted to pull the heartstrings of the Court with stories about Cavett overcoming the odds of a bad childhood wrought with abandonment, domestic violence and drug use.
“At one time,” Mr. Mallon explained, “he tried to defend his own mother” in a domestic violence situation. “Still,” he contended, “he got good grades. He was a good football player. He never drank or did drugs.”
Then, as the rather incredulous story continued, he said “it all changed” when Cavett started hanging around with an outlaw motorcycle club. He said that Cavett had received brain injuries when he says he was brutally beat in an “initiation” into the club.
The audience was appalled, as some were aware that Cavett’s head/facial injuries were the consequence of multiple bar fights and this was but a poor attempt to redirect responsibility for his behavior.
Mallon added that a neuro-psychiatrist said Cavett’s frontal lobe is gone. Later, those in attendance asked each other if that comment was an awkward attempt to set the stage to possibly better Cavett’s situation in the future.
He said that Cavett was delusional the day of the murder, and fearful that his life was threatened. “He felt his children were in danger, that they were being abused.”
“He was denied visitation and he was frustrated. He had a gun, which he normally did not. He acted impulsively,” Mallon said.
Mallon described the cold-blooded killer as “A man of honor” with a “big heart” who hopes to be "a positive influence on his children in the future".
Then Joshua Cavett had his chance to make a statement. He rose, and read methodically from a yellow hand-written page, both sides.
Cavett apologized for “the event” 13 months ago and all the pain caused.
Then in a move that was exactly the opposite of accountability, he claimed not to remember what happened that day.
“I may not recall the events of that day... And I’m not going to mention some things because Jessie’s not here to defend herself. But God, Jessie and I know the truth.”
He said she was the love of his life, that they had separated a couple of times, and had problems, “but it had nothing to do with domestic violence”, at which time the audience exploded in laughter.
Then he claimed that the accusations of past domestic violence were little more than mere “gossip”, and encouraged those present not to spread gossip, on behalf of the children.
And so ended his "apology". Some shook their heads in disbelief, or disgust, or both.
Family & Friends Receive Judge’s Praise
Judge Jean Kerr Maurer made a final statement. “I have done this a long time, and I know the heartbreak this visits on family.”
She commended them, “Everyone was well spoken and respectful.” She said that it is a great responsibility to navigate children’s lives, and she was impressed with the way they conducted themselves in the courtroom.
And to Josh Cavett, the Judge said, “You will likely spend life in prison. That you didn’t put family through a trial and turned yourself in has made this horrible thing a little easier."
And Joshua Cavett was led from the courtroom, to start the rest of his incarcerated life.
"Jessie was like a light, she had a sparkle in her eyes. We really loved her," said a co-worker of Jessie's.
"I will miss her all my life."
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