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The Landmark Platte County, Missouri
by Mark Vasto, Landmark reporter
June 17, 2004
On Tuesday, Eva Jo Eiken testified in Platte County Circuit Court about the kind of things people in the packed courthouse hadn’t even considered about the murder of her 41-year-old daughter Laurie Andrus.
“It’s about thinking about how to dress your daughter for her funeral,” Eiken said to audible gasps. “About questioning whether to have an open or closed casket…packing up her apartment and seeing evidence of the struggle.”
Less than an hour after she spoke those words, the man who murdered her daughter, Jody K. Malone, 20, of Gladstone, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the killing.
And although the friends and family of Laurie Andrus were spared a lengthy trial when Malone entered a guilty plea in the crime last December, the combination of their testimonials and Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd’s arguments during the sentencing hearing did more than enough to inflame their emotions and add to their hunger for justice.
“She was always smiling,” her father, Carl Eiken testified. “She didn’t think she had an enemy in the world.”
But on July 27, 2003, Andrus did have an enemy in the form of Malone – a 19-year-old, 6’1, 230-pound, semi-pro football player who had attended a party at Andrus’ Bicycle Club apartment in southern Platte County earlier that evening.
According to Zahnd, Malone returned to Andrus’ apartment after the party ended and murdered her in a “ferocious, heinous, and barbaric way.”
Zahnd said Malone inflicted at least 36 separate abrasions, 50 separate bruises, three broken ribs, and a 4½” by 2½” slash to Andrus’ throat. He entered as state’s evidence the autopsy report which revealed that Andrus suffered four stab wounds to her vaginal area, one of which was five inches deep. In addition, the report showed bruises to the victim’s hands, which Zahnd said indicated she had struggled with her attacker.
“She died in a fight for her life,” Zahnd said. “A fight that she lost.”
Andrus’ death was discovered on July 29 after her father contacted police because he had not seen or heard from her in two days. Kansas City police officers went to Andrus’ apartment and found her naked, bludgeoned body lying in a pool of blood. A serrated steak knife with a missing handle was found near the body, her apartment was splattered with blood.
Zahnd said that although the case wasn’t a pre-meditated or first-degree murder, he offered the argument that the manner in which Andrus died was far worse. She didn’t die from the “clean” attack of a trained assassin, Zahnd said.
“This woman died in a horrendous attack,” Zahnd stated. “He didn’t stop kicking her until he heard her gurgling on her own blood.”
Zahnd ridiculed Malone’s defense, outlining how he had attempted to cover up the crime and how he lied to homicide investigators.
“He says Lori Andrus instigated the crime with a stab to her vaginal area. He knows how bad (the act) is going to make him look,” Zahnd remarked. “This man is a monster who brutally beat, stabbed, and sexually mutilated Laurie Andrus as she fought valiantly for her life.”
Zahnd also challenged Malone’s assertion that he had been diagnosed with “intermittent explosive disorder,” a psychiatric condition that leads to aggression and rage attacks. Zahnd said that even if the diagnosis was true, it only explained Malone’s actions but didn’t excuse it. Zahnd characterized Malone as a “ticking time bomb” instead.
“It is for these sorts of time bombs that we build prisons,” Zahnd argued. “We should lock this man up and throw away the key so that the next the time bomb goes off, an innocent person like Laurie Andrus does not get brutally murdered.”
Various members of Malone’s family testified on his behalf. All of them spoke about Malone’s church attendance and his popularity in school. Some blamed Malone’s abuse of alcohol and his use of Zoloft (an assertion Zahnd successfully argued against on the grounds such a claim contradicted Malone’s intermittent explosive disorder defense). Others painted the picture of a depressed college dropout who couldn’t handle his adopted parents’ divorce and a breakup from his high school sweetheart.
His mother testified that she was not proud of what he had done, but loved him nonetheless. She told the judge she hoped that he would be released in time to live a productive life out of prison.
Malone, dressed in a white sport shirt, green tie, khakis and arm shackles, sat emotionless for most of the hearing, rigidly slumped over in his chair. He surprised many when he decided to testify on his behalf.
Tears streaming down his face, he turned and faced the family of Andrus.
“I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t mean it, I swear it,” Malone cried. “By doing this, I took someone away. I’m very sorry.”
Malone said that what he did was the “worst thing that can happen to a mother” before asking Eiken for forgiveness.
“When I look in the mirror every day, I’m so disgusted with what I see,” Malone said, throwing himself at the mercy of the court.
“The defendant’s family and his attorney may suggest that this court should not allow one incident to define Mr. Malone’s life,” Zahnd said. “Sometimes one moment does define a person’s life. In this case, the defendant’s vile and wanton murder of Laurie Andrus defines his life because it ended hers.”
Presiding Judge Lee Hull took a ten-minute recess before returning with his sentence: 25-years on the count of second-degree murder and 25-years on the count of armed criminal action, to be served concurrently. Hull said it was “impossible to reconcile the Jody Malone (he) had heard about” in court with the crime.
Zahnd said he was pleased with the decision, pointing out that Malone would have to spend more than 21 years behind bars. He did, however, argue for two 30-year sentences to be run consecutively, or back to back. Hull’s decision allows Malone to serve for both crimes at the same time.
After the decision was explained to the family, Andrus’ father expressed outrage over the sentence in the halls of the courthouse.
“He’ll come out and do it again,” Eiken said loudly, adding that Malone should have been dealt with like a “mad dog.”
Outside the courthouse, Eva Jo Eiken told reporters she “forgave” Malone, but that her family and she would never have closure in the matter.
“I wish it could have been me taking the pain for her. Every mother wishes that.”