By The Associated Press
JACKSON — A federal appeals panel has denied a new trial for kidnapper Patrick Hollowell.
Hollowell was convicted in the kidnapping of an Arkansas man who was taken to a Mississippi casino to cash a $2,000 ransom check.
The victim, Oliver Anderson, ruined his abductors’ plans by screaming for help in the Isle of Capri, a busy Coahoma County, Miss., casino with plenty of security guards and surveillance cameras. The abductors ran.
Hollowell was sentenced to 27 years in prison for his role in the abduction. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to conspiracy, kidnapping and using a gun during a violent crime.
Dennis Lee Andrews pleaded guilty to conspiracy and using a gun during a violent crime. Athena Marie Byrd pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping. Each was sentenced to a little over 21 years.
In his appeal, Hollowell argued his sentenced was unfair compared to that of his co-defendants and in light of his cooperation with investigators. Hollowell said his drug addiction also should have been considered.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week denied Hollowell’s claim. It said Hollowell failed to show how his situation was similar to that of Andrews and Byrd.
The panel also said the Mississippi federal court weighed other issues cited by Hollowell in coming up with the sentence.
According to court documents, Andrews confessed to an FBI agent that he was using methamphetamine and popping pills at a friend’s house in West Helena, Ark., on Feb. 2, 2011, the night the abduction happened. He and Hollowell went to a Motel 6 in the area and picked up a pistol, according to court records that cite Andrews’ confession to the FBI.
“Because he was ‘high,’ he does not remember where the two met up with co-defendant Athena Marie Byrd, but the three of them devised a ‘scam’ to obtain money from Oliver Eugene Anderson,” court records said.
On the night of the abduction, Byrd went to Anderson’s house first so she would be there when the others arrived. Andrews and Hollowell showed up and held Anderson and Byrd at gunpoint. Anderson asked what he could do to make them leave, records show.
The woman allegedly said she owed Andrews and Hollowell $2,000. They stole binoculars, pistols and other items but weren’t satisfied with the money and valuables Anderson had at his house.
They forced Anderson to write a check, then Andrews and Byrd loaded him into her car at gun point and headed across the nearby Mississippi River to the Isle of Capri Casino in Coahoma County, Miss., to cash the check.
Once inside the casino at the teller’s window, “Anderson screamed that he was being kidnapped, or words to that effect,” the indictment said. The abductors fled. Andrews dumped the gun at another man’s house.
Andrews and Byrd each have appeals pending before the 5th Circuit.