Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Mormon Mother Sentenced to Fifteen Years For Practicing LDS Family Values
Second District Judge Michael Allphin sentenced Angela Ray Andrews to 15-years-to-life in prison for the murder of stepdaughter Shelby Andrews — and the judge pledged to ask the Board of Pardons to keep Andrews behind bars forever.
Allphin also sentenced the woman to another prison term of one-to-15-years for second-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The judge ordered the sentences to run concurrently to avoid any chance of appeal on the second count.
In a rare public gesture, the Syracuse Police Department, which handled the case and saw Shelby's battered, bloodied remains, also issued a scathing condemnation of the woman who systematically and repeatedly tortured the child.
"Angela Andrews was never a mother to Shelby; she was a conniving, self-centered monster who manipulated others in the household to assist in abusing Shelby," the police statement said. "Angela played the victim in the Andrews' home and had family members believing Shelby was a bad seed. The only victim was Shelby Andrews. We all should never forget every bruise, every black eye and every bite mark on Shelby's body. Shelby never had a chance.
"As for the devil herself, Angela Ray Andrews, we hope that she never has the opportunity to be part of society or to be able to inflict torture on another human being," the police statement said.
Andrews, 37, previously pleaded guilty to the two crimes as part of a plea bargain. Prosecutors refused to negotiate the murder charge but agreed to reduce the sex-abuse charge from a first-degree felony to a second-degree felony.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings later said this was "No. 1" on the list of most grotesque cases he has handled in his 12-year legal career. He declined to give details — "out of respect for Shelby" — but indicated the violations the girl suffered were even more depraved than what has been publicly disclosed.
Rawlings wanted the death penalty for Angela Andrews and her husband, Ryan, but he was not able to charge them with capital murder because of the way Utah's laws were written at the time.
As a result of Shelby's murder, the laws have been rewritten to give prosecutors greater flexibility to seek the death penalty.
Rawlings said he was satisfied with the plea agreement because it meant Angela Andrews was forced to admit her guilt and be locked up. The plea bargain also avoided protracted court appearances and appeals; it meant Andrews will become a registered sex offender; and most significantly, it saved the other children in the house from having to testify in court in the disturbing case.
Kimberly Hales, Shelby's biological mother, recounted how Angela Andrews' cruelty toward Shelby has hurt their entire family, including Shelby's brother, now 15, and especially her sister, now 9, who collapses into tears and withdrawal due to "flashbacks of something horrific she saw Angela do to Shelby."
The other two children are now living with Kimberly Hales and have been adopted by her husband of four years, Guy Hales. Angela Andrews' son is living with her parents.
Angela Andrews read a brief statement at her sentencing, saying she did not know why she did what she did. "I want you to know, you honor, how sorry I am for Shelby's death," Andrews said in a flat voice. "As my friends and family know, I loved Shelby very much."
Ryan Andrews, 39, earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder and was sentenced to a prison term of 15-years-to-life on Jan. 22. Ryan Andrews, who was Shelby's biological father, volunteered to testify against his wife if her case went to trial, even though that was not a requirement in his plea agreement.
He gave prosecutors a chilling written confession that described the brutality inflicted on Shelby on a regular basis, primarily by Angela Andrews, but also with participation by him and others.
For example, Ryan Andrews held the child's arms and legs while Angela Andrews rammed the girl in the vaginal area with a metal spray can. Angela Andrews also forced Shelby to eat her own feces, repeatedly slammed the girl's head into the stairs, and hit her in the vaginal area with the heel of a shoe, according to the confession.
The police were called to the couple's Syracuse home on Aug. 1, 2006, where officers found Shelby dead, with about 80 percent of her body covered with old and new bruises, and bite marks. Later, her brain also was found to have been swelling.
On the night Shelby was killed, Ryan Andrews described pushing the child into a tiny space in a linen closet that forced her to stand upright, even though she cried out that she could not breathe and was gagging on vomit. He said in his confession that Angela Andrews told him to leave the girl in the closet because "Shelby was just trying to play me," so the couple continued to keep the girl locked up and watched TV together.
"When we later opened the door, Shelby was dead, and her lifeless body fell to the floor," Ryan Andrews' confession said.
IF YOU"VE READ THIS FAR...And are wondering how I know she is LDS, please read this story which mentions her church!
KEARNS -- Ten-year-old Shelby Laice Andrews was proud to be the only girl on her baseball team. She loved soccer and sports; she also loved wearing brightly painted fingernails and doing her mother's hair and makeup.
On Saturday, friends and family, including a handful of Syracuse police officers, said goodbye to the little girl whose father and stepmother are charged in her beating death.
"Even though she liked girl stuff, she was quite the little daredevil," Shelby's uncle, Jeff Andrews, said Saturday at Shelby's funeral.
Shelby lived in Syracuse with her father and stepmother, but the funeral was held at the Kearns meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that her maternal grandparents attend.
Syracuse police found Shelby's body at the home of her father and stepmother Aug. 1 after her brother called 911. Shelby was badly beaten by a belt, and her head had been slammed into a wall with enough force to break a hole in the sheetrock, police said. About 80 percent of her body had bruises, contusions and bite marks -- some new and others several weeks old.
Her father, 38-year-old Ryan William Andrews, and stepmother, Angela Ray Andrews, 35, are each charged with first-degree felony murder and sexual abuse of a child. They are being held in the Davis County Jail on $500,000 bail. Angela Andrews' attorney told the Deseret Morning News last week his client was not responsible for the fatal injuries.
"Yes, she's cool," Shelby Andrews wrote in a poem about herself in which each line began with a letter of her first name. Jeff Andrews, who read the poem Saturday, said Shelby was not only cool; she was also a caring, "bright and wonderful girl."
After Shelby's grandfather had a stroke and had to retire, Shelby brought him a kitten so he would not be lonely at home during the day. When Shelby was 3 and her younger sister was born, "She was a good little mother to her new sister. She was always looking out for her," Jeff Andrews said.
As a toddler, Shelby lived in Kearns. When her parents divorced, she moved with her father to Ogden. After Ryan and Angela Andrews married, they moved to Syracuse, where Shelby went to school. She would have started the fifth grade this fall.
In her last journal entry, Shelby wrote of a recent family camping trip during which she, her mother, her sister and her brother all caught their first fish. She wrote that she had had a great time and hoped to go back again someday.
"It's heartbreaking that we won't have the privilege of reading more of what she would have written, but we know her journal pages would have been filled with the love from her family and friends and the wonderful adventures of her life," Jeff Andrews said.
Shelby's aunt, Janice Andrews, encouraged family and friends to "say goodbye to the shock and anger" they have felt since learning of Shelby's death and to find comfort in each other's support.
"Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, of gains and losses. They come as a matched set," she said. "Today we say goodbye to Shelby Laice Andrews while looking forward to saying hello to her again."
Bishop David Sharp of the Kearns Western Hills LDS 2nd Ward told those attending that God's plan for humankind doesn't promise every experience will be a happy one; it will, however, ultimately result in eternal happiness.
"We don't know why such a beautiful young girl was taken so early in her life, but we can all be better people because of her life," he said.
Shelby Andrews was interred at Redwood Memorial Estates, 6500 S. Redwood Road.