Sentencing set in Arkansas-Miss. kidnapping case

By Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Pres

JACKSON — A federal judge has scheduled a February sentencing hearing in the kidnapping case involving an Arkansas man who was abducted from home and taken at gunpoint to a Mississippi casino to cash a $2,000 check.

Prosecutors say the victim, Oliver Anderson, ruined his abductors’ plans by screaming for help in the Isle of Capri, a busy casino on the Mississippi River with plenty of bright lights, security guards and surveillance cameras. The abductors ran when Anderson yelled.

Patrick Hollowell is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 23 in U.S. District Court in Greenville, Miss. Dennis Lee Andrews was recently sentenced to 22 years in the case and Athena Marie Byrd awaits sentencing, though no date has been set.

The Arkansas trio allegedly planned to make it appear that Byrd, described in court records as the victim’s friend or part-time girlfriend, was being held for ransom in February 2011. Hollowell pleaded guilty to helping abduct Anderson from his home. Prosecutors say Byrd and Andrews took Anderson to the casino to cash the check.

All three pleaded guilty. The judge said they are dangerous and ordered them held without bond.

This how the crime went down, according to the indictment and court records based on Andrews’ alleged confession to an FBI agent.

Andrews was using methamphetamine and popping pills and hanging out with Hollowell and Byrd on Feb. 2, 2011, when the three hatched a scheme to scam Anderson.

Byrd went to Anderson’s house first so she would be there when the others arrived. Andrews and Hollowell arrived and held Anderson and Byrd at gunpoint. The woman said she owed Andrews and Hollowell $2,000. They stole binoculars, pistols and other items from Anderson’s house but weren’t satisfied, records show.

Andrews and Byrd forced Anderson to write the check, then loaded him into a car at gunpoint and drove across the Mississippi River to the Isle of Capri Casino in Coahoma County, Miss.

Once at a teller’s window inside the casino, “Anderson screamed that he was being kidnapped, or words to that effect,” the indictment said. The abductors fled and dumped the gun at the home of an acquaintance.

Andrews pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and using a gun during a violent crime. Hollowell pleaded guilty in the same month to conspiracy, kidnapping and using a gun during a violent crime. Byrd pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy and kidnapping.