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‘I just wanted to be with my wife on Valentine’s Day’: Man gets life for jealous rage stabbings that killed woman, mom and son, 7

From left: Mason, 7 Tara Lynn Fifer, and Mason's mother, Lexy Vandiver, were fatally stabbed in 2014 in Missouri. Shawn Kavanaugh, right, was sentenced for their murders. (Photos from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

From left: Mason, 7, Mason’s mother, Lexy Vandiver, and Tara Lynn Fifer were fatally stabbed in 2014 in Missouri. Shawn Kavanagh, right, was sentenced for their murders. (Photos from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

A 32-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison without probation or parole for a stabbing spree that killed a woman, a mother and her 7-year-old son, who reportedly tried to protect her, in an attack that prosecutors said was prompted by the man’s fear that his then-wife was having a sexual relationship with one of the victims.

Shawn Kavanagh was sentenced on Tuesday in Missouri after being convicted on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree domestic assault, first-degree burglary, and armed criminal action, authorities said.

He was convicted of stabbing his then-wife, Jessica Powell, Tara Lynn Fifer, 22, Lexy Vandiver, 29, and Vandiver’s 7-year-old son, Mason, on Valentine’s Day, 2014, near Jonesburg, Missouri, prosecutors said. Jonesburg is more than 80 miles west of St. Louis.

Powell survived. A total of 75 stab wounds had been inflicted on the four victims, prosecutors said. The court learned at trial that Mason died trying to protect his mother, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

He had been facing the death penalty in the bench trial, but St. Charles County Circuit Judge Rebeca Navarro-McKelvey reportedly decided on the lesser punishment because he called 911, confessed and provided evidence of his mental disorders.

“Today, I’m going to give you what you don’t deserve,” she told Kavanagh, the Post-Dispatch, which covered the case, reported she said. “I’m going to give you mercy.”

The victims’ family and friends were reportedly heartbroken.

“He doesn’t deserve to live,” said Heather Vandiver, sister-in-law of Vandiver, outside court, the newspaper reported. “He stabbed a little boy. He deserves to die.”

Prosecutors, who had sought the death penalty, were disappointed.

“I respect the judge’s verdict, but I am disappointed. As she stated in the hearing, if any case deserves the death penalty, this is the case. Justice has been too long coming for these victims and their families,” said Kelly King, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, in a statement. “I can only hope the families can now put this part of these horrific crimes behind them and move forward with their lives. I sincerely appreciate the work of our first responders, the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office, and the cooperation and patience of the victims’ families. Without their efforts, we could not have prosecuted this case. As disappointing as the verdict is, Mr. Kavanagh will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

In the hearing, Kavanagh apologized.

“I’ve done so much damage, and all I can say is, ‘I’m sorry,'” Kavanagh said, the newspaper reported.

At trial, Kavanagh’s public defenders sought a second-degree murder charge to avoid a possible death sentence, citing mental disorders, the newspaper reported.

Kavanagh reportedly confessed.

“I know that I blacked out,” Kavanagh told a sheriff’s lieutenant, according to the Post-Dispatch, citing recordings of the interrogations played at trial. “I lost it.

“I just wanted to be with my wife on Valentine’s Day.”

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