OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s only woman on death row is one step closer to execution. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld Brenda Andrew’s murder conviction.
In 2004, the former Sunday school teacher was convicted of first-degree murder for killing her husband, and sentenced to the death penalty.
“It was just extra ugly,” said Wes Lane, the former Oklahoma County District Attorney that oversaw the case in its earliest days after the 2001 killing. “Murder is always ugly and all that, but this case was just so mean.”
Prosecutors said Andrew and her fellow Sunday school teacher James Pavatt became lovers. The pair fled to Mexico after gunning down her husband Rob Andrew in the garage, as he was picking his kids up for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Months later, Andrew and Pavatt were arrested when they crossed back into Texas.
Among the ten issues Andrew and her legal team presented to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, was that the prosecution’s evidence about her sex life and extramarital affairs were irrelevant and made the trial fundamentally unfair.
But her murder conviction was upheld in a 2 to 1 decision, with the majority opinion saying, “it is evident that Ms. Andrew’s trial was not perfect. But it is just as evident that her trial was fundamentally fair, and that is all she was entitled to.”
Lane said he wasn’t surprised by the decision.
“The evidence was overwhelming at the preliminary hearing phase,” he said. “I mean, there were so many pieces of evidence.”
Andrew’s attorney, John Carlson of Ridley, McGreevy & Winocur, P.C., sent KFOR a statement Wednesday, saying, “As one of the judges on the court of appeals recognized, the errors in Ms. Andrew’s case deprived her of a fundamentally fair trial. Those errors included the prosecution’s invocation of gender stereotypes and irrelevant information about Ms. Andrew’s sex life. We will continue to fight for a new trial. We will continue to fight for fairness.”
In a separate trial, Pavatt was also convicted and sentenced to death. While an execution date has not been set for Andrew, Pavatt is scheduled to die on July 11, 2024.