Henderson County District Attorney's Office:
HENDERSON COUNTY (KYTX) - On Friday, after hearing evidence for two days, a 49 year-old man was sentenced by Judge Dan Moore of the 173rd Judicial District Court. Avery Lee Denton received the maximum sentence of 20 years for the death of his former girlfriend and burning her body in a burn pile near Brownsboro three years ago. In addition to the 20 year sentence, Denton was also sentenced to serve 15 years on a charge involving tampering with a human corpse.
Justin Weiner and Daniel Cox presented punishment evidence on behalf of Scott McKee's District Attorney's Office. "I'm glad he got the maximum sentence for manslaughter," McKee said. "I also want to recognize ADA Weiner, who was assisted by Daniel Cox, for doing an excellent job presenting the punishment evidence."
The Henderson County Sheriff's Office began their investigation of the case back in July of 2010. Sandra Gail Anderson, Denton's girlfriend, stopped showing up to work. Her brother-in-law became suspicious after no one had seen his sister in three days and filed a missing persons report. Deputy Tracey Dunnington, of the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, gathered members of the Office's command staff and set off to Denton's residence. Denton had dropped Sandra's vehicle off and claimed that she took off walking away from his home when the two had gotten into a fight. Investigator Nick Webb spoke with Denton about Sandra's mysterious disappearance and ultimately human remains were found in a burn pile just outside of Denton's home. Denton eventually admitted that the remains were Sandra's but denied putting her body into the fire.
After excavating the burn pile, Sheriff Ray Nutt said that the condition of the remains would make it difficult to determine the cause of death. It took over a year to positively identify Sandra's remains because her bones were so extensively cremated that it was impossible to extract a DNA profile from her bones.
In closing arguments Weiner stated: "[t]his is a defendant that truly deserves the maximum sentence. After killing Sandra, Denton fought three days of rain with tires and other accelerants to fuel the burn pile. Thanks to Denton's tireless efforts to burn Sandra's body, her entire remains ultimately fit inside 11 manila envelopes. "
At the hearing Nick Webb testified extensively regarding his investigation of the scene. Additionally, he testified regarding a ballistic reconstruction study that he conducted with the assistance of Texas Rangers Michael Adcock and Rudy Flores. The study disproved Denton's story that some ammunition must have cooked off out of the burn pile and killed Sandra. The study showed that a bullet unrestrained only traveled at half the velocity of a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun.