KINGMAN — The case of a Kingman woman killed over a custody dispute reached its conclusion Friday with the sentencing of the victim’s daughter, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
Mohave County Superior Court Judge Derek Carlisle imposed a life prison sentence for Carrie Vanover, 24.
Co-defendant Mark Baldonado, 32, previously was sent to the Arizona Department of Corrections under an identical plea agreement.
Vanover and Baldonado each must remain in prison for at least 25 years before possible parole windows open.
Various authorities, investigative reports, evidence and admissions paint a consistent picture of why and how Shawn Vanover, 64, was killed. The plot to kill her evolved after she threatened to try to take custody of an unborn grandchild.
The elder Vanover already had custody of her daughter’s young daughter, when Carrie Vanover was pregnant by Baldonado. The couple conspired to kill the elder Vanover so she couldn’t follow through with the custody threat.
Deputy County Attorney Cameron Patt, in a previous hearing, told the court that the defendants planned to use pills to sedate Shawn Vanover, making her easier to kill. He said that didn’t work so Baldonado used a hammer to repeatedly strike the victim in the head.
Patt said Shawn Vanover still did not die so Baldonado retrieved a .38-caliber revolver and a pillow from a bedroom. He said the pillow was placed over the victim’s face and chest as the weapon was fired at least twice.
The victim’s body was placed in a 55-gallon drum that was welded shut and buried in the backyard of the north Kingman property where the defendants lived. The body was recovered when a search was executed after an unidentified person provided information to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.
The defendants’ son was born about one month after the murder. Both children were placed in state care.
Carlisle noted that Baldonado was the one who committed the deadly violence and buried the victim. But he said it also could be argued that Carrie Vanover’s conduct was more egregious for conspiring to murder her own mother.