SAN ANTONIO – A jury on Friday found Andre McDonald guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter in the death of his wife, Andreen McDonald, in 2019.
Jurors deliberated for about 12.5 hours before reaching their decision. The jury’s decision came about 1.5 hours after the foreman sent 399th District Court Judge Frank Castro a note that the panel was deadlocked. Castro brought in the jurors and read to them what’s called the “Allen Charge,” ordering the panel to continue deliberations. The charge applies further pressure on the jury to come to a unanimous decision. If not, Castro could have declared a mistrial.
The jury had the choice to consider murder or manslaughter in its deliberations.
WATCH: Judge announces verdict
Andre McDonald has elected Castro to ultimately decide his sentence. McDonald could face a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.
The punishment phase of the trial will begin Monday despite objections from the defense that they needed more time to prepare.
McDonald was placed in handcuffs and will be in custody this weekend and during the punishment phase of the trial.
Defense attorneys declined to comment on the verdict, but Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said he was surprised by the jury’s decision. When asked why he thought the jury found Andre McDonald not guilty of murder, Gonzales said, “It’s hard to say. Obviously we put on a strong case, the defendant got on the stand, admitted to this conduct, and it was up to the jury to decide. There’s no way of knowing. One thing I’ll tell you after doing this for 35 years what a jury does is very unpredictable.”
WATCH: Andreen McDonald’s father reacts to verdict
Paul Anderson, Andreen McDonald’s father, made a brief statement at a news conference with Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
“I just want to say to the world thanks for their support, (who) have been supporting us as a family since 2019, but there is a certain group that I would like to say thank you to. To the security forces, to the firemen, people who volunteered their time to come and search for my baby in 2019,” he said.
WATCH: Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar reacts to verdict
Salazar said he also was disappointed with the verdict.
“Although it’s no secret that the verdict is not what we had hoped for, we obviously respect the jury’s decision. We will live with the result of today. Obviously we’re hoping for a just sentence,” he said.
The sheriff said he was proud of the thousands of hours of work his deputies and investigators put into the case.
“All my investigators did an outstanding with this. I couldn’t possibly ask them to put any more effort into this. They put their heart and soul into it,” he said.
When asked about what he thought about Andre McDonald, Salazar told reporters about the first time he saw him.
“What I saw was just eyes that were devoid of any human emotion. An arrogance about him and complete ‘I’m going to get away with this. I’m smarter than anybody else. I’m certainly smarter than all these cops,’” Salazar said.
Salazar said he gave Anderson a gift -- the handcuffs that were used on Andre McDonald as he was escorted back to jail following the verdict.
“Just as a token of my appreciation for everything that he’s (Anderson) gone through,” Salazar said.
Andre McDonald was facing a first-degree felony murder charge in connection with the death of his wife, Andreen McDonald, in 2019.
He was the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance when family and friends reported her missing after she was last seen alive on Feb. 28, 2019.
According to court testimony, Andre McDonald gave investigators conflicting statements on his wife’s whereabouts and then stopped cooperating after hiring an attorney.
After months of searching, officials found Andreen’s remains in July 2019 at a private property in far north Bexar County. Soon after the discovery, Andre McDonald was charged with murder.
WATCH: Andreen’s father, local officials weigh in after Andre McDonald’s manslaughter conviction
The prosecution said during closing arguments that Andre McDonald killed his wife at their home because he was enraged that she was having an affair, thought she wanted to have him killed by her lover and wanted to open a business in her own name without him knowing about it.
“This is not self-defense, this is a cover-up,” prosecutor Steven Speir said. “This is a man who is only concerned about himself. Blames his wife for everything he did to her.”
The prosecution also said the defendant tried to cover his tracks by beating his wife’s remains with a hammer and then burning them.
“(But) he’s sorry that he got caught,” Speir said.
The prosecution said the jury needs to find Andre McDonald guilty of murder because he “intentionally or knowingly” killed his wife.
“It’s time for justice for Andreen. It’s time for justice for her daughter. It’s time to find him guilty of murder,” Speir said.
The defense countered by telling the jury that the case was not about murder and was about “what kind and degree of responsibility” his client had.
Defense attorney John Convery argued that Andre McDonald takes responsibility for the things he’s done all his life, including the death of his wife. Convery said that Andre McDonald called his sister-in-law and mother-in-law three days before the trial started to tell them his side of the story.
Convery said that Andreen McDonald was “looking for a fight” before she was killed and said that the defendant was simply defending himself.
“It’s Andreen (who) charges after him in the bedroom, she’s taunting him,” Convery said. “Spitting in someone’s face is an assault. She charges Andre, (is) probably stronger than him. He has the right to use proportionate force.”
Defense attorney John Hunter said that the jury needed to exclude the evidence that the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office found at the McDonald home on March 2, because one of its deputies went inside the home without a search warrant.
“We know that he (deputy) was sent there with an ulterior motive in mind,” Hunter said. “The intrusion was unreasonable.”