Man convicted of manslaughter after credit union theft that results in employee death
IDAHO FALLS – A man with a history of serious mental illness could now spend decades in jail for indirectly causing the death of a credit union employee in a robbery.
Matthew J. Stavert, 32, will spend between eight and 33 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter and robbery. Stavert was convicted on Wednesday of the July 2, 2020 robbery at a Mountain America credit union that resulted in the death of branch manager Jacob O’Haver, 33.
Stavert was originally charged with robbery and burglary, but the burglary charge was changed to manslaughter as part of a plea deal.
District Judge Bruce Pickett handed down the sentence, saying probation or a rider program was not appropriate for Stavert, who has struggled with mental health issues for nearly two decades. Since he was 13, Stavert has received several convictions and was interned in a public psychiatric hospital before the 2020 heist.
Mental illness seems to have played a role in theft. Defense lawyer Tyler Salvesen relayed a conversation between Stavert and mental health professionals about the day of the robbery. Stavert told them he robbed the bank because “the voices” in his head told him he was spreading COVID-19, and that he had to go to jail to spread the virus further.
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Stavert has made other puzzling statements involving the building of pyramids to stop “zombies” and “dogmen”. Such statements led to multiple jurisdictional issues in his case and to a diagnosis of “spectrum of unspecified schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders”. He was also diagnosed with manic depression.
Salvesen focused heavily on Staver’s sanity as the reason he committed the theft.
The theft took place around 4:40 pm Reports from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office show that Stavert visited Wendy’s next to Mountain America Credit Union on 25th East in Ammon. Stavert, a former employee of the restaurant, told his former boss that he planned to rob the cash register minutes before the alarm went off.
Several theft alarms alerted authorities to an ongoing theft at the credit union around 5 p.m. Shortly thereafter, they were called from the same company regarding an employee suffering from a medical emergency.
A bank teller later told detectives that Stavert entered the bank with a McDonald’s bag. She said Stavert told her to “fill the bag”. When she asked, “with what?” Stavert was silent. The cashier asked Stavert if he had an account. He said yes, but it was frozen.
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The cashier sent a message to the other employees that she believed Stavert was trying to rob her. O’Haver came out of the office, asked what was wrong and Stavert then told him to “fill the bag,” court documents report.
Stavert left the building with the fast food bag full of $ 500 in cash and fries.
Soon after, O’Haver had a medical emergency and collapsed. When first responders arrived they found O’Haver unconscious and EMS was unable to resuscitate him. He was rushed to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
O’Haver is believed to have died of a ruptured aorta caused by stress, according to Salvesen.
“You robbed us (of) the greatest man in our lives,” O’Haver’s widow Sydney O’Haver said in a victim impact statement at sentencing.
She told the court about the people he left behind, including their four children. She described how her 13-year marriage to O’Haver was cut short because of Stavert’s actions, but she didn’t hate him. The widow said she wanted Stavert to learn from the consequences of his actions and improve his life.
Bonneville County Assistant District Attorney Alex Muir called the case “difficult,” and although mental health was a mitigating factor, he believed Stavert was not in the midst of a psychotic episode during the flight. . Muir said the deputies’ reports showed no signs of mental illness that law enforcement officials are trained to recognize, and Stavert appropriately refused to speak without a lawyer present.
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During sentencing, Pickett said it was clear Stavert had no intention of killing anyone during the robbery, but his actions led to O’Haver’s death. Pickett also agreed that there were mental health issues on the day of the flight.
“I would just like to say that I am deeply sorry,” Stavert said during the sentencing. “I feel horrible about this.”
In addition to the time spent in jail, Pickett ordered Stavert to pay a $ 2,000 fine. Restitution had not been calculated as of Wednesday’s sentencing date.