SAN ANTONIO – A medical examiner testified Friday that the wife of an Air Force major was likely killed with a claw hammer and not being stomped on, as her husband told his in-laws during an alleged confession.
Dr. James Feig, a forensic pathologist with the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, conducted the autopsy of Andreen McDonald, whose remains were found in a field in north Bexar County in the summer of 2019. Her husband, Andre McDonald, is standing trial for her death on a charge of murder.
Feig said the autopsy took several days to conduct because they only had her skeletal remains to work with. He added that autopsies like this one is like “putting together a jigsaw puzzle.”
He testified that Andreen McDonald’s cause of death was “homicidal violence, including blunt-force trauma.” When asked by the prosecution if the trauma would be consistent with being struck by a claw hammer, Feig said yes.
Feig testified several injuries were found on Andreen McDonald. They included fractures on her spine, charring on her finger bones, and a fractured jaw that he believes was caused by more than a stomp, which would contradict what Andre McDonald allegedly told his mother-in-law and sister-in-law three days before the trial started.
During the alleged confession, the defendant said that “he used his foot and stomped her,” according to Cindy Johnson, his sister-in-law, who testified on Day 1 of the trial. When the prosecution asked if Andre McDonald stomped her multiple times, Johnson responded, “He didn’t say.”
Melissa Baldwin, a forensic scientist serologist with the Bexar County Crime Laboratory, testified that blood found on the handle and head of a hammer that was discovered inside the McDonald home belonged to Andreen.
Also testifying on Friday was Clifton Klabunde, who discovered Andreen McDonald’s remains on Specht Road. Klabunde said he went to the property to retrieve a cow’s head for a yard decoration for a friend when he smelled a foul odor.
“The first thing I saw was a skull. I didn’t get close to it,” Klabunde told the jury. He then called the owner, who reached to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
Andre McDonald’s commanding officer in the Air Force in 2019 was the first witness to testify.
Lt. Col. Steven Michael Chetelat’s testimony offered some inconsistencies to the story that Andre McDonald said to him about his wife’s disappearance.
Chetelat said when he met with Andre McDonald the day his wife was reported missing, the defendant appeared calm.
But when he returned to the McDonald home the next day, he noticed some Band-Aids on the defendant’s hand.
“He said he had been tending to rose bushes and he got hurt,” Chetelat said. Earlier this week, a gardener for the McDonalds testified that he tended to their landscaping and they had no lawn equipment.
Chetelat testified that something else stood out to him about the defendant’s behavior.
When the prosecution asked Chetelat if Andre McDonald asked about his wife, he answered, “not that I’m aware of.”
During cross-examination, Chetelat said that Andre McDonald had no previous disciplinary problems while in the Air Force.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Monday in the 399th District Court. Judge Frank Castro is presiding over the trial.
KSAT will be livestreaming the trial gavel-to-gavel on KSAT.com, KSAT Plus and on KSAT’s YouTube channel.
If found guilty of murder, Andre McDonald could face up to life in prison.