SAN ANTONIO — After a jury reached its conclusion in the trial of Andre McDonald, reporters witnessed a moment never seen before.
As Andre McDonald was put back into his cell Friday, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar told his deputy to remove Andre's handcuffs. The sheriff gave the cuffs to Paul Anderson, the father of Andreen McDonald.
Minutes after the verdict came in, Anderson addressed reporters by sharing words of gratitude.
"I just wanna say to the world, thanks for their support," said Anderson. "To the security forces, to the firemen, the people who volunteered their time -- took time away from their family to come and search for my baby in 2019. Some of those people are still standing with us today. I would like to tell them we really appreciate it. Thank you very much, God bless you."
Thousands of hours went into the search for Andreen McDonald.
Hundreds of people from across the city showed up day after day, in the freezing cold, ready to cover any inch of ground left unseen.
Five months after Andreen went missing, a hiker stumbled upon her charred remains on private property six miles from the McDonald home.
"Ultimately, it's no secret that the verdict is not what we had hoped for," said Salazar.
Under criticism during the trial was the sheriff's handling of the case. Evidence could not be shown to the jury because it was illegally obtained by law enforcement.
"We know that's what defense attorneys do," Salazar said, responding to a reporter's question about the criticism of BCSO. "They attack every little shred of whatever they can hang onto, whatever they can glean onto to shed some sort of a doubt."
Salazar says he respects the jury's decision, although it's not the outcome he wanted.
"Absolutely I'm disappointed in that," he explained. "However, if the family is able to find peace and closure then I'm happy with that outcome for them."
As deputies escorted Andreen's family out of the news conference, her father showed reporters Andre's handcuffs. They were fastened to his belt strap.
"Maybe it's just a small reminder that he can take back with him home and know that at the sheriff's office that there's a whole bunch of people that poured their heart and soul into finding justice for his little girl," said Salazar.