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Andre McDonald to serve maximum time in prison of 20 years

He will be eligible for parole in 10 years.

SAN ANTONIO — Air Force Major Andre McDonald appeared emotionless as the judge handed down the maximum prison sentence after a jury convicted him of manslaughter in the 2019 death of his wife Andreen.

Family and friends of Andreen quietly and briefly rejoiced in the courtroom once Judge Frank Castro announced he's sentencing McDonald to 20 years in prison.

A jury last week found McDonald not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter following more than 12 hours of deliberations over two days. 

One week ago, McDonald confessed to killing Andreen and testified before the court that he acted in self defense. McDonald said he felt betrayed and robbed upon learning Andreen left his name out of a business deal. 

An argument on Feb. 28, 2019, escalated into a physical confrontation at the couple's north Bexar County home just after midnight March 1. McDonald testified Andreen attacked him in the master bedroom after he threatened to file for divorce. McDonald testified he kicked Andreen while she was on the ground, took his daughter Alayna up to bed, then returned, realizing his wife was dead. 

Monday morning, the prosecution advocated for the max prison sentence afforded under manslaughter, emphasizing McDonald's lack of remorse demonstrated after he killed Andreen and attempts to cover up his tracks. 

The defense cited McDonald's clean military and criminal record prior to Andreen's death while also pointing out the Air Force Major's act of compassion by establishing a trust fund for his autistic daughter who turns 12 in April. The defense noted McDonald's road to healing will happen in private without news cameras present.

Before deciding the sentence, Judge Frank Castro called out McDonald's absence of emotion he observed throughout the trial, except when his eyes welled up when Alayna  was discussed. Castro found it "devastating" how McDonald killed Andreen in his daughter's presence. 

Castro also called it "sickening" the way McDonald disposed and mutilated Andreen's body by leaving her in a rural field mixed in with animal bones. 

Andreen's father Paul Anderson came face to face with McDonald during victim impact statements, expressing the pain he's felt every day since losing his daughter more than three years ago. 

“Do not try to take any vengeance on any of Andreen McDonald family. Anyone, just leave it. Justice have been served. I just want to say Andy, I don’t know how I’m going to live this out, but I forgive you and it’s your duty to seek God’s forgiveness," Anderson.

Cheryl Spencer, Andreen's cousin, believes 20 years behind bars simply isn't enough. She was hoping the jury came back with a murder conviction. But now the next chapter of healing can begin knowing Andreen's killer will be removed from society for more than a decade. 

“Closure is a complicated word. I’m not sure what that looks like. But Andre McDonald has held a lot of people hostage for a long time and we cannot move forward. Today we can move forward in the next step of grieving," Spencer said.  

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales provided this statement in response to the sentencing and conclusion of the trial. 

“Although nothing we do will bring Andreen back, this sentence will bring some finality and closure to her family. It is our hope that holding the defendant accountable for manslaughter will bring some measure of justice to the memory of Andreen. I wish to remind everyone that domestic violence in Bexar County is a scourge on our community and our office will continue to fight it every day,” Gonzales said.

Andreen's daughter, while not present in the courtroom, did have a message for her father whose next destination is a prison cell. 

The court coordinator read the message during victim impact statements, which stated: "You killed my mother, took away my life and broke my heart and hurt my feelings and you will pay for what you did and you will be punished forever."

McDonald will be eligible for parole once he's served half of his term. 

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