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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Airway Heights man to appeal sentence in son’s slaying

An Airway Heights father convicted of murder in the shooting death of his son is appealing his seven-year prison sentence.

Spokane Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor sentenced Mark Cavazos, 55, last week for the January 2013 shooting death of James Cavazos, 31, who was pronounced dead at his father’s home at 4020 N. Garfield Road. James Cavazos’ girlfriend said the two began arguing during a night of drinking.

The sentence followed nearly two years of legal wrangling, which included an April mistrial because of a hung jury and multiple motions to suppress witness statements and evidence at the scene of the shooting. Investigators said Mark Cavazos admitted to firing the fatal shot, telling them that night, “I didn’t mean it; it was an accident,” according to court records.

A second jury convicted Cavazos of second-degree murder in August. Multiple neighbors and family members wrote to O’Connor requesting leniency.

“He has custody of his two granddaughters, and I know they are very upset that he will be taken from them,” wrote George Compton, a neighbor who was with Mark Cavazos when authorities arrived the night of the shooting. He called Cavazos’ house “the most loving and safest home life” the grandchildren had experienced.

James Cavazos’ girlfriend, who was present the night of the shooting, said Mark Cavazos took something from her she can never get back.

“The only thing I have to say to you is may God have mercy on your soul, because the devil hasn’t,” Misty Beaumont wrote to Mark Cavazos in a letter to the court. “And I forgive you as well.”

Mark Cavazos remains free on $100,000 bond while he appeals.

He has no other felony criminal history. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of a little more than 19 years. But O’Connor rendered an exceptional sentence below the standard range for second-degree murder, which begins at 10 years.

“The fact that she did not follow the recommendation made by the prosecutor and the fact that she did give (Cavazos) a sentence below the standard range shows that she did believe there were some mitigating circumstances,” said Mark Cavazos’ attorney, Aaron Rasmussen.

Cavazos must file an official notice of appeal within 30 days of the sentencing, according to court rules.

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