Former "Teacher of Year" speaks out after murder charges dropped - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Former "Teacher of Year" speaks out after murder charges dropped

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IREDELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Charges against a former "Teacher of the Year" arrested for murder were dropped Friday, according to officials.

Dawn Bridget Kavanaugh was arrested in February and charged with the murder of her boyfriend, Ronald Everett Ketchum, 43.

Kavanaugh now has a new assignment and mission in life.  She wants to send a message out about domestic violence.

"To be aware that there is help out there," Kavanaugh said. "And that taking that first step is going to be the hardest and it could be life saving for some."

The former teacher will work with My Sister's House of Iredell.  That organization gives support to victims of domestic violence.  The teacher says she wished she had the courage to ask for help. 

"I was fearful and embarrassed," Kavanaugh said. "And I didn't really know the best way to proceed and at the same time I thought I was helping someone that really needed the help, and I could change and fix - clearly I was wrong."

Kavanaugh is trying to start over.  She doesn't know if she will go back into teaching.  But she does want to be able to go on school grounds to participate in her son's activities.  Right after she was charged, the Iredell-Statesville school district banned her from school grounds.

"They jumped the gun," the former teacher said. "I think that they perhaps reacted immediately - not knowing details or the situation. They drew the line in the sand."

The murder was reported around 6 p.m. on February 10, along the 100 block of Red Arrow Place.

Officers arrived to find Ketchum suffering from a stab wound that they said at the time stemmed from an apparent domestic dispute.

Ketchum was taken to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center and then to Carolinas Medical Center where he later died.

Police said Ketchum was killed with a kitchen knife.

Officials told WBTV in March that Kavanaugh and Ketchum lived together and had an on and off relationship.

On Friday, nearly seven months after Kavanaugh was arrested and charged with Ketchum's murder, the charges against her were dropped.

Court papers released state that "due to a conflict in the District Attorney's Office in Iredell County," the Conference of District Attorneys was contacted to handle the case.

Upon receiving the case, they then worked with the Mooresville Police Department to gather medical records, the Medical Examiner and SBI's reports, and additional statements from witnesses.

"At the conclusion of this supplemental investigation, the decision was made to dismiss the charge of first degree murder against the defendant, Dawn Kavanaugh," the court papers state.

They go on to state, "The evidence gathered by the State during this supplemental investigation, which was not available to the Mooresville Police Department nor District Attorney Sarah Kirkman at the time the charge was initiated, no longer supports this charge."

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