Mt. Pleasant teen to serve 18 years in deadly stabbing case

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - A Mount Pleasant teenager will serve 18 years in prison for the deadly stabbing of another teen in January of 2015.

Judge Markley Dennis handed down the sentence to Matthew Fischer, 19, Wednesday morning for the death of Lucas Cavanaugh, 17, of Sullivan's Island.

Fischer received a 30-year sentence, but Judge Dennis suspended that sentence to 18 years. Dennis said Fischer must serve at least 85% of the 18 years, which means he could be eligible for parole after 15 years.

Fischer was 16-years-old when the incident happened. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month.

"There's no worse way to lose a child than a senseless murder," said Beth Cavanaugh, Lucas's mother.

Fischer exchanged threatening texts with Cavanaugh, which investigators originally believed came over Snapchat.  Fischer's words included, "Come over" and "I'll kill you man," according to the affidavit.

"Luke was dead the second he turned the key in his ignition on Sullivan's Island," said David Cavanaugh, Lucas's father. "He was taking a 25-minute drive to his death, and he had no idea."

Fischer testified in a March court hearing that his girlfriend told him to tell Cavanaugh to stop texting her. When Cavanaugh came to the home of Fischer's girlfriend, the two began fighting in the yard.

Fischer then retrieved a knife from his pocket, closed his eyes and stabbed Cavanaugh, the incident report states. Investigators said Fischer initially claimed he had stabbed Cavanaugh only once, but later admitted to stabbing him twice.

Cavanaugh died on-scene from a stab wound according to the Charleston County Coroner's Office. Police said Fischer confessed to the stabbing on video, and provided a written confession.

"He had ill will specifically towards Lucas Cavanaugh, previously indicating that he wanted to kill him eventually," said Charleston County Assistant Solicitor Jennifer Shealy.

"We've cried years worth of tears," Beth Cavanaugh said. "Tears of complete devastation that should have been tears of a lifetime of joy."

"There's nothing like having something ripped away from you to make you appreciate what you already have," David Cavanaugh said.

Nearly 75% of the people in the courtroom were there in support for the Cavanaugh family. The other 25% in support for Matthew Fischer and his family.

"I'd like to convey to you, how incredibly sorry we are... really," said Joey Fischer, Matthew's father.

"There's not a holiday that goes by that we don't talk about y'all," said Susan Fischer, Matthew's mother. "Not a birthday, Thanksgiving day... it is every bit evident in our home and to Matt. And for that I just wanted to let you know."

Lucas's mother said he would have turned 20 on Thanksgiving Day last week. Lucas's younger brother described him as irreplaceable.

"No matter how many years he gets in prison, Luke is gone forever," said Dirk Cavanaugh. "The last time I saw him was his lifeless body at the visitation. I just hope Matthew gets the maximum amount so that my family can get the justice that has not been served."

Fischer spoke briefly in the courtroom Wednesday saying, "I'm sorry. I regret it every day. I don't know what I can say."

Also in the courtroom Wednesday was Fischer's former girlfriend who was there the night of the incident.

Attorneys for Fischer said she played just as big of a role in Cavanaugh's death, saying the love triangle she was involved in kept the boys in each others lives longer than necessary.

Fischer's attorneys also claimed that their client suffered from mental health issues and had received treatment.

"I will never understand what caused this," said Robert Riley, Lucas's close friend. "I understand how it could have gone. I understand when your teenage hormones are going, everyone does dumb things. But I will never personally understand how it could blow up to this proportion."

The case was set to go to trial with Fischer planning to argue self-defense, but he instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The supplemental reports state Fischer admitted texting Cavanaugh, "Could you stay out of our relationship and shut the [expletive] up." Fischer claimed Cavanaugh responded, "You won't say that to my face."

Fischer is being held at the Al Cannon Detention Center awaiting transportation to Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center in Columbia, where the state Department of Corrections will review his case and decide where he will serve his prison sentence.

Fischer will be given credit for the 43 days he originally spent in the Charleston County Juvenile Detention Center, but will not be given credit for the 1,000 days spent on house arrest with an electronic monitor.

He could be eligible for parole as early as 2033.

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