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Air Force major gets even more prison time for burning wife’s body and beating remains with claw hammer

Andre McDonald explains how a claw hammer got stuck in his wife's neck

Andre McDonald uses a hand motion to explain how a claw hammer got stuck in his wife’s neck during her mutilation while taking the stand in his own defense on Jan. 30, 2023 in San Antonio.

A judge in Texas tacked on several more years to the prison sentence for a 43-year-old Air Force Major for what he did to the body of his 29-year-old wife after brutally killing her inside the home they shared with their young special-needs daughter. San Antonio District Court Judge Frank Castro sentenced Andre McDonald to serve an additional five years behind bars for lighting Andreen McDonald’s corpse on fire and beating her body with a claw hammer.

McDonald on Wednesday pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in his wife’s death. As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, McDonald agreed to the five-year sentence, but the question at Wednesday’s hearing was whether that sentence would be served concurrently or consecutively.

Earlier this month, Judge Castro handed down the maximum sentence of 20 years to McDonald after a jury found him guilty of manslaughter in his wife’s death. That same jury also found him not guilty of murder.

“The egregious nature of this case – all of the tampering that Mr. McDonald did – was an attempt to try to deceive the court and an attempt to try to deceive the jury in trying to cover his actions in causing the death of his wife,” prosecutors said while arguing for a consecutive sentence. “Based upon the egregious nature of what was conducted, we feel that stacking the cumulative sentence is appropriate in this case.”

McDonald’s defense attorney argued that his client had taken responsibility for his actions and was already serving the maximum sentence for manslaughter, asserting that adding to that sentence would be disrespectful to the jury that found him not guilty of murder.

Judge Castro, who upbraided McDonald for several minutes during his manslaughter sentencing hearing, sided with prosecutors.

“I know there’s got to be some good in you because of the life you lived as a father prior to this and sometimes good people make a bad – or huge – mistake,” Castro said, also noting McDonald’s Air Force service and lack of criminal history. “But we’re 13 days away from when you killed your wife and the mother of your child, and I hope you think about that on the 28th of February coming up and every day that you’re in prison.”

Castro then ordered McDonald to serve the tampering sentence after the completion of his manslaughter sentence.

The decision to run the sentences consecutively did not come as a surprise to court watchers who saw Judge Castro appear angry when discussing McDonald’s crime and apparent lack of remorse earlier this month.

“You burned her body, beat it with a hammer, and desecrated her corpse. After that it almost seems like the emotion of a serial killer or something,” Castro said. “You didn’t seem to care about the dead mother of your child. You just didn’t seem bothered by that.”

During the trial, the most explosive testimony came from McDonald himself, who described in detail Andreen’s death and the grisly aftermath, including how “the claw [of the hammer] got stuck in her neck” when he was beating Andreen’s corpse. Judge Castro noted that even during that testimony, McDonald showed “no emotion whatsoever,” saying the matter-of-fact description “defied the imagination.”

As previously reported by Law&Crime, McDonald testified that he acted in self-defense when an argument about money and fidelity turned physical on March 19, 2019, resulting in Andreen McDonald’s death.

Watch the hearing below.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.