After shooting his wife's brother four times in the back, Eddie C. Andrews walked over to the struggling victim, straddled his body and shot him nine more times in the chest as the man pleaded for his life. Andrews then walked away from the lifeless body, returned seconds later to pull the trigger again and heard only an empty click.
At a brief and relatively unemotional hearing this week, Andrews, 24, told a Prince William County Circuit Court judge that he was guilty in the first-degree murder of Rodney L. Smith last September in Manassas Park, the result of what witnesses and police say was a growing feud between the two men.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors recommended that Andrews serve 31 years eight months in prison for the slaying, but the judge could sentence him to a maximum term of life in prison.
A Manassas Park police inspector testified Monday that Andrews went to the home of his estranged wife, Laverne Andrews, on the morning of Sept. 1 and that he confronted Smith, who was exiting his sister's Moseby Court town house. According to testimony, Smith ran when he saw Eddie Andrews approaching him, and Andrews shot Smith four times in the back with a semiautomatic pistol. Andrews then shot Smith nine more times at close range, according to testimony.
Smith's death was the first fatal shooting in Manassas Park since 1985.
Defense attorney Robert Horan III said at the hearing that Andrews had been invited that morning over to the home he once shared with his wife to pack up some of his belongings.
Smith had moved into his sister's house "for protective purposes," according to police Inspector Anthony DeFelice, who testified that Smith became worried after Andrews allegedly punched the woman during a domestic dispute weeks before the shooting.
DeFelice said that the two men had argued more than once and that Smith threatened Andrews with a gun about a week before the Sept. 1 shooting. Smith's roommate said the gun was unloaded at the time.
Police apprehended Andrews about two hours after the slaying. DeFelice testified that Andrews took inspectors to a small pond in Centreville, where he had disposed of the gun.
Throughout Monday's hearing, Andrews sat nonchalantly, leaning back and swiveling his chair as Judge Richard B. Potter explained the ramifications of a guilty plea and as DeFelice gave an account of the killing. Andrews's family sat quietly, weeping on occasion, and a large group of Smith's relatives crowded the courtroom.
Horan said that Andrews has been "completely cooperative" with authorities since his arrest and that he is "very apologetic for this act."
Andrews's calm and confident demeanor set off a brief skirmish at his preliminary hearing in October, when he turned to Smith's family and flashed a big smile as he was being escorted from the courtroom. Laverne Andrews touched off an emotional outburst, and Smith's relatives lunged at Eddie Andrews, who was whisked away by sheriff's deputies.
After the October hearing, members of both families got into an argument outside the courthouse that ended quickly and without incident.
Both families declined to comment after Monday's hearing.
Judge Potter is scheduled to rule on sentencing at a hearing Oct. 21.