SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County judge on Wednesday reduced the bail for Andre McDonald, who has remained behind bars since March 3 on a charge of tampering with evidence in connection with his wife Andreen's disappearance.
Andre McDonald's $2 million bail was reduced to $300,000.
During the Wednesday bail hearing in Judge Frank J. Castro's court, Andre McDonald's attorney John Convery, argued that the original bail was excessive given the charges. Prosecutors countered, stating that McDonald is a threat and flight risk, asking that his original bail amount remain.
Christian Henricksen, the district attorney's office's chief of litigation, said the agency respects the judge's decision.
"The bond needs to consider the assets that the defendant has available to him, the seriousness of the crime, the risk to the community and flight risk," Henricksen said. "All of those things taken into consideration demanded a high bond in this case."
Convery said he had mixed emotions.
"I'm happy that the judge saw fit to seriously reduce the bond from $2 million to $300,000," Convery said. "I think it's a victory for the Constitution and a victory for all of us. It's not the victory we wanted. We thought that a significantly lower bond, perhaps in the neighborhood of up to $50,000 or $75,000, would've been more than adequate."
Authorities said that because a condition of McDonald's release includes GPS monitoring, it is likely that even if he makes bail, his release won't come until next week at the earliest. McDonald is due back in court April 24 for a routine pre-indictment appearance.
Andreen McDonald vanished approximately one month ago. Authorities said Andre McDonald is a person of interest in her disappearance.
He is accused of attempting to destroy two receipts for the purchase of two 5-gallon barrels of gasoline, a hatchet, heavy-duty trash bags, gloves and a shovel as authorities conducted an investigation into the disappearance of Andreen McDonald.
Arrest documents for Andre McDonald describe how friends and family requested that law enforcement conduct a welfare check at the couple's home after Andreen McDonald failed to show up for work March 1.
Friends and family told the deputy conducting the welfare check that they suspected foul play in Andreen McDonald's disappearance, records state. One friend even told deputies that Andreen McDonald had warned her many times that if she were to ever disappear, "it would be because (Andre McDonald) killed her."
According to court documents, Andreen McDonald's mother and friends met a deputy at the McDonalds' home in the 1000 block of Solitude Cove in north Bexar County around 1 p.m. March 1, when Andre McDonald was not home.
The affidavit states that when the deputy walked into the master bathroom of the home with Andreen McDonald's mother, the deputy noticed that the floor appeared to have been recently cleaned and that there was a red stain on a light switch. The red stain, court records note, was later determined to be human blood and hair. The floors were also found to have human blood.
Arrest documents state that the deputy also noticed a burn pile in the backyard, where it appeared that something had been recently burned. Upon closer inspection, a friend of Andreen McDonald's noted that they had discovered a zipper in the burn pit.
Andre McDonald arrived at the house as the group scoured the home for clues and told them that his wife was being treated at Baptist Emergency Hospital, the affidavit states. But when authorities followed up on his story, hospital officials said they did not have a patient by that name, court documents detailed.
When confronted by law enforcement about the discrepancy, Andre McDonald said he didn't know where his wife was and that they had gotten into an argument Thursday night, according to an affidavit.
Deputies detained Andre McDonald for questioning, but he declined to speak with investigators and requested an attorney.
On Saturday afternoon, an investigator noticed that the McDonalds' garage door had been ripped off its tracks, court documents state. The same investigator covertly followed Andre McDonald to a gun shop, where Andre McDonald purchased a firearm and a significant amount of ammunition, according to arrest paperwork and accounts from Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
Salazar explained Saturday that deputies took McDonald into custody after the gun purchase out of concern for his mental health. Salazar said McDonald had left the gun shop in such a hurry, he left behind the recently purchased firearm and his ID and that deputies were unsure if he had suicidal tendencies.
While McDonald was at the gun shop, other deputies arrived at the home and saw a shovel in Andreen McDonald's Porsche Macan, something that wasn't there during a previous search of the home, the affidavit states. Salazar alluded to this new evidence during a March 2 news conference and said then that authorities obtained an additional search warrant for the home based on the observation of evidence that was "in plain sight."
While serving the first search warrant March 2, the affidavit states that investigators located what they believed to be more blood evidence in the couple's silver Chevrolet Malibu, as well as Andre McDonald's cellphone and his wife's old cellphone.
While executing the second search warrant, deputies found two purchase receipts for the aforementioned items in the trash. The receipts had been torn up.
Authorities also found a fire pit that wasn't there during previous searches. Court documents note that it appeared the fire pit had been recently used to destroy papers and other items. Additionally, as investigators searched trash cans at the home, they found "heavy coveralls" that appeared to have been worn and a claw hammer with "woody plant debris," the affidavit states.
Authorities said the tools listed in the torn up purchase receipts were found in Andreen McDonald's Porsche Macan. The affidavit described the shovel as having "fresh dirt" on it, as if it had been used recently.
Authorities subsequently arrested Andre McDonald on March 3.
While authorities have not yet located Andreen McDonald's body, deputies said they believe she was killed.
Salazar said previously that Andre McDonald, a cyberwarfare specialist who has a background in engineering, was "kind of smirking, kind of laughing, like he got one over on everybody" during questioning.
Court records obtained by the Defenders show that Andre McDonald had filed for divorce from his wife in February 2017. In the petition for divorce, he noted that the marriage had "become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities." He later withdrew the petition, online court records show.