A jury on Thursday (Sept. 19) found Christopher Buechting, 46, guilty of murdering his live-in girlfriend, Angela McDonald, in 2017 at their Festus-area home.
After a three-day trial before Jefferson County Circuit Court Div. 5 Judge Victor Melenbrink at the Jefferson County Courthouse, the jury deliberated approximately four and a half hours before returning the guilty verdict at about 2:45 p.m.
The jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, a class A felony punishable by 10 to 30 years or life in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 2 before Melenbrink.
Buechting’s attorney, Nicholas Williams, said his client will appeal the verdict.
“We respect the jury’s verdict,” he said. “However, Mr. Buechting plans to file a motion for a new trial based on the evidentiary issues presented to the court.”
Buechting stood accused of beating McDonald on Jan. 22, 2017, seriously injuring her. The next day she was taken by helicopter to Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur, and she died there on Jan. 25, 2017, at the age of 39.
Robyn Walsh, who describes herself as one of McDonald’s close friends, said she appreciates the jury’s verdict.
“I do feel justice is being served by the conviction,” she said. “I’m happy. I’m happy the girls (McDonald’s three daughters) can have this closure.”
Walsh said she considered McDonald family and intends to read a victim’s impact statement at the sentencing.
“She was like a sister to me,” Walsh said.
According to the case’s probable-cause statement and other court papers, deputies responded to a 911 call on Jan. 22, 2017, at a home in the 1400 block of Wilderness Acres, where Buechting and McDonald lived. By the time authorities arrived, Buechting was gone and McDonald was not forthcoming with information.
A deputy observed McDonald had bruises on her chin and under her left eye. She also repeatedly said her side hurt and she thought she had broken ribs.
The deputy who spoke with McDonald said she had what looked like “old” bruises. McDonald told the deputy Buechting had abused her in the past, but she did not say she had been abused that day, the report said.
The next day, Jan. 23, 2017, the Sheriff’s Office was called back to the home after Buechting called 911 and said McDonald was “unresponsive.” During the 911 call, Buechting said McDonald had “intentionally banged her head on the porch the previous night because she was drunk and mad,” according to the report.
Buechting further stated that while the two were arguing, he forced her out of the house and after that, he heard banging on the door, which he assumed was McDonald banging her head on the door. Deputies found “a large amount of blood on the front porch near the front door and blood splattered onto the lower portion of the door frame,” the report said.
During closing arguments at the trial, Williams questioned law enforcement’s investigative techniques, as well as testimony from physicians.
Williams also asserted that McDonald’s injuries were self-inflicted.
“Her history of self harm is irrational,” Williams said. “You can not hold Christopher Buechting responsible for this self-destructive, reckless behavior.”
In assistant prosecuting attorney Travis Partney’s closing argument, he said medical experts determined that McDonald’s death was a homicide based on the nature of her head injuries.
“This case is as simple as it is brutal,” Partney said. “We know she didn’t do this to herself, and that’s just the heads injuries.”
Buechting’s bond was revoked and he is being held in Jefferson County Jail.