Crime

Professional gambler sentenced to life in prison for killing wife with hammer

Mark Andrews, right, was found guilty of the 2016 murder of his wife, a Keller ISD school teacher. He was sentenced Thursday to life in prison and will not be eligibile for parole for at least 30 years.
Mark Andrews, right, was found guilty of the 2016 murder of his wife, a Keller ISD school teacher. He was sentenced Thursday to life in prison and will not be eligibile for parole for at least 30 years. Special to the Star-Telegram

Shortly after being found guilty of murdering his wife Doris Andrews, Mark Andrews' past came back to haunt him.

One by one Thursday morning, during the sentencing phase of his trial, prosecutors called to the stand those who had known Mark Andrews throughout his life.

First his brother, Jason Andrews, who testified that despite being raised and supported by good adoptive parents, Mark Andrews was a liar who lacked emotion and empathy. Jason Andrews told jurors he was now concerned for his family and parents because they had cooperated with prosecutors. He believed the community was safer with his brother behind bars.

Three of Mark Andrews' four ex-wives and a live-in ex-girlfriend also testified, saying Mark Andrews was a pathological liar who mooched off them financially, inflicted verbal and emotional abuse, and often had moved on to a new relationship before he'd finished with the last.

Two of the women said Mark Andrews had physically abused them.

Joseph Roy, Mark Andrews' former pastor, testified about his former friend's untruthful boasts about being an ordained minister and his military past, including claims he'd been selected by the CIA "because of his innate ability to disregard human life."

In reality, military records show Mark Andrews had not been in special ops, nor been injured in Afghanistan, as he'd previously told others. Rather, he'd enlisted in the Air Force but received a general discharge — separated by reason of misconduct — after just two years and four months of service.

In the end, it would take jurors less than 10 minutes Thursday to return with their sentence — life in prison. He will have to serve at least 30 years before he becomes eligible for parole.

In an emailed statement, Tarrant County prosecutors Kevin Boneberg and Art Clayton and investigator Jim Rizy said Mark Andrews "left a path of abuse and fear every step of the way, culminating in this ultimate evil act of selfishness, heartlessness and brutal violence."

"Everyone supported Doris and this prosecution, including the defendant’s family. We thank them for this and their kindness," they wrote. "This verdict speaks directly to the victims of intimate partner violence across the county that offenders will be held accountable for their cowardly acts."

Walt Cleveland, who with attorney Patty Tillman defended Mark Andrews, said after the trial that he was thankful to the jurors for their service.

"My only hope in this trial was for an acquittal and we fought for it, Patty and I did, like dragons and tigers," Cleveland said. "The life sentence is not surprising to me given the horrific nature of the crime. We do the best we can with what we have to work with."

But Cleveland said he hopes police — whose investigation he criticized often throughout the trial — "take what happens in this trial and learn from it."

Doris Andrews' oldest daughter, Hope Scott, declined to comment after the trial.

Doris Andrews.jpg
Doris Jean Andrews Star-Telegram archives

A gambling man

Mark Andrews had insisted from the beginning that he had not killed his wife, but rather found her dead on Jan. 8, 2016, in bed at their Azle home.

Mark Andrews, a professional gambler, had told police he left early that morning to go to the WinStar Casino in Oklahoma but turned around after realizing he'd left behind his money. Upon returning home, he said he found his wife unresponsive, attempted CPR and woke a couple living with them, yelling for them to call 911.

Prosecutors argued Mark Andrews attacked his wife with the hammer as she slept, then staged the scene — including opening the couple's safe — to look like an intruder was responsible. They said his motive was to collect more than $373,000 on two life insurance policies that Doris Andrews had.

The jury deliberated more than three hours over two days before handing down their guilty verdict Thursday morning.

At the time of her death, Doris Andrews taught medically fragile children at Basswood Elementary School in the Keller school district. She had two daughters from a previous marriage but she and Mark Andrews had also adopted a young daughter with special needs, whom Hope Scott and her husband now raise.

In seeking a life sentence for Mark Andrews, prosecutors had asked jurors to remember all the people impacted by Doris Andrews' death, calling out several names of Doris Andrews' family members and friends as well as Mark Andrews' exes who filled the courtroom.

"These are the ripples of Mark Andrews' works in the room with you today," Clayton told jurors. "These are his deeds and this is what he has done."

Clayton told jurors that Mark Andrews was a chameleon who could take on the appearance of a soldier, a salesman, a preacher.

“What he really is, ladies and gentleman, is a predator,” Clayton said.

'He just scares me'

During their testimony, all of Andrews' exes expressed being nervous while on the stand.

“He just scares me and I just don't like being in the same room," explained Julie McDaniel, Andrews' third wife.

McDaniel testified that though Andrews never physically abused her, after Doris Andrews' death, she had sent the woman's oldest daughter a Facebook message. McDaniel said that after her split with Andrews, she'd told her mother she believed "he would eventually kill somebody someday."

"I knew that he was literally capable," McDaniel said. "He doesn't have emotions toward people at all and if it would benefit him, he was capable of anything."

Candy Buller testified that while married to Andrews, her house and belongings had been destroyed in a fire while she was working out of state. Suspiciously, she said, Andrews' guns had been spared from the blaze because he'd removed them from the house before the fire, which reportedly was sparked by an electrical short in a paper shredder.

Buller said insurance adjusters were suspicious of her husband but that he was never charged with arson and the insurance claim was ultimately paid.

Buller testified that after her divorce from Andrews, someone later broke into her parents' home, stealing jewelry and valuable coins. Thursday morning, while chatting with Andrews' fourth wife, Tricia Tyson, Buller said she learned that Andrews had once come home after reportedly collecting some owed debts with jewelery and coins.

"I remember thinking, where did he get all this stuff," Tyson testified Thursday. She told jurors that she now believes they were the items stolen from Buller's parents.

Buller said Andrews never physically hurt her but had also told her stories about the things he'd done in the military. At that time, she said she wasn't afraid of him.

"In retrospect now, you feel you should have been?," Cleveland asked.

"I feel like God saved my life," Buller responded.

Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd

Fort Worth Police and the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office are looking for these 10 fugitives. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Call 817-469-8477.

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