SAN ANTONIO — Andre McDonald has been convicted of manslaughter in the death of his wife, Andreen, nearly four years after her initial disappearance sparked months of searching around Bexar County.
A jury returned the guilty verdict on McDonald, a U.S. Air Force Reserve major originally charged with murder and tampering with evidence, at 3:35 p.m. Friday after more than 10 hours of deliberation. Earlier this week he confessed to killing Andreen and disposing of her body in 2019, but attempted to argue he was acting out of self-defense.
"I'm sad for the family," Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said after the verdict was announced. "It's not what we expected, not what we hoped for. But we respect the jury's decision."
Gonzales said his focus now is asking the judge to consider the maximum sentence, which for manslaughter is 20 years.
Court proceedings were put on hold for Tuesday and Wednesday due to this week’s winter storm. Closing arguments were made Thursday, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict after six hours of discussions, and left for the day.
Earlier Friday afternoon, the jury had been unable to reach a unanimous verdict, at which point Judge Frank Castro deployed an "Allen charge," effectively ordering them to reconvene and try to reach a verdict in order to avoid a mistrial.
Earlier in the trial, Andreen’s mother as well as a close friend testified he confessed to his wife’s murder to them over the phone.
“We will live with the result of today," Sheriff Javier Salazar said Friday afternoon, appearing with members of Andren's family. "The thousands upon thousand of man hours that went into the search for Andreen, the thousands of man hours that went into building the case ... went toward giving Andreen’s family hopefully some closure, hopefully some peace, hopefully some sense of the justice that they were searching for.”
A sentence on the manslaughter charge is expected to be handed down next week, the judge announced. Sentencing testimony will proceed Monday at 9:15 a.m.
A long-delayed trial
McDonald was arrested in early March 2019 for tampering with evidence after Bexar County deputies executed a search warrant at the couple’s home. They found human blood on a light switch, a shovel, an axe, work gloves and gasoline, according to arrest records.
McDonald made bond. It wasn’t until later in the summer that he was taken back into custody, this time on murder charges after remains discovered on a remote piece of land were identified as Andreen.
But Andreen’s family had to endure a wait of months and eventually years before the trial finally got underway, a delay largely attributed to lack of agreement over what would and wouldn’t be admitted as evidence in court. The pandemic exacerbated the wait until the opening statement were finally made on Jan. 23.
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