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Man Who Pleaded Guilty to Shooting at Motorist Takes His Own Life

The attorney of John C. Kavan said that his client, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a felony gun charge, was "despondent" about the case.

John C. Kavan didn’t show up for his pre-sentencing hearing Tuesday in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court in Wheaton. The 71-year-old Downers Grove man was facing up to 15 years in prison after to a felony gun charge.

As to the defendant’s absence in courtroom 4014, Kavan’s attorney John Westra uttered these words of explanation to Judge Kathryn E. Creswell: “Your honor, I have learned that my client is deceased.”

Kavan took his own life Thursday at his ex-wife’s Darien home, Westra said in an interview Tuesday after the hearing.

Following his arrest in February, Kavan told in a written statement that he had fired his gun “foolishly” in the direction of a driver whose car had run out of gas near the intersection of Bailey Road and Greenbriar Lane in Darien.

Police reports indicate that after the driver succeeded in starting the car and began to pull away, Kavan fired a .38 caliber revolver, shattering the car’s back window.

Kavan admitted during a June 8 hearing to aggravated discharge of a firearm in the direction of another person or occupied vehicle, the most serious charge he faced. The judge dismissed three other charges against Kavan, including reckless discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault/discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle and intimidation/physical harm.

“It’s very tragic”

Following Tuesday’s hearing at the DuPage County Courthouse, Westra commented about his client’s demise.

“It’s very tragic,” Westra said. “He had so much anxiety about this court case that he took his own life. He was despondent over the jeopardy he found himself in. Facing these charges was one of the motivating factors.”

The attorney said Kavan’s ex-wife discovered his body at her home in Darien, which according to Westra, is near the site of the incident with the stranded motorist that had landed Kavan in so much trouble.

Although Kavan and his former wife no longer lived in the same home, Westra said the pair had remained friends and sometimes still had dinner together. On Thursday, Kavan wrote a final communication to her.

 “He had left a note for his wife, something to the effect of, ‘You won’t have me to worry about me anymore.’ She thought that maybe he was planning to move away, but then she found his body,” Westra said.

Westra said a package arrived at his office the day after Kavan’s death.

“It contained instructions from him on his burial and what to do with his property,” the attorney said.

Westra said that besides his former wife, Kavan also has a daughter and a grandchild. He also had a son, who preceded him in death, Westra added.

A tragedy, but no justice

On Tuesday afternoon, Paul Darrah, spokesman for the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office, offered sympathy for those who cared about Kavan – but emphasized the consequences of the defendant’s actions from a law-enforcement perspective.

“Any time someone takes his own life, it is indeed a tragedy,” Darrah said. “Our condolences go out to his family and friends. But we must remember – he did commit a violent crime. The victim in this case will be denied a full measure of justice.”

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Tom Koz June 27, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Yes, it is sad this man took his own life. And yes, from what is/has been reported, it was foolish that he fired the weapon in the direction of the car or that he fired the weapon at all. Thank God that an innocent bystander was not injured or killed. However, he SHOULD have been allowed to "keep and bear" the firearm for lawfull defensive purposes.
Bob B June 27, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Only you could turn a suicide into yet another "right to bear arms" moment.
Tom Koz June 27, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Well it appears he wasn't charged with UUW (Unlawful Use of Weapon) or AUUW (Aggrevated Unlawful Use of Weapon) which is usually the case for carrying a loaded and uncased firearm - ONLY in Illinois without a permit. I am curious though as to why this unfortunate man had felt the need to fire weapon??? I DO feel for the man and his family. Firearms should Only be used for lawful defensive purposes.

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