A federal appeals panel has denied Athena Marie Byrd's challenge to her sentence for her role in a 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.
A federal appeals panel has denied Athena Marie Byrd's challenge to her sentence for her role in a 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. Byrd pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping in 2012. She was sentenced to a little over 21 years in prison. Byrd claimed a Mississippi judge should have considered her cooperation with the government, her drug addiction and lack of guidance as a youth to give her a lesser sentence. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Tuesday that Byrd's sentence was reasonable. Prosecutors said 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. Patrick Hollowell and Dennis Lee Andrews were also convicted in the case. The 5th Circuit upheld Hollowell's conviction and 27-year sentence last fall. Andrews' appeal is pending before the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit. 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. Andrews told the FBI that he was using methamphetamine and popping pills and hanging out with Hollowell and Byrd in West Helena, Ark., on Feb. 2, 2011, when the three hatched a scheme to scam Anderson, according to court records. 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.