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June 7, 2002

Accessory sentenced to 9 years in prison

- FBI agent says Jon Mercer knew of plot to kill Hansel Andrews
By PATRICK SULLIVAN
Record-Eagle staff writer

     
      CADILLAC - A Cadillac man who authorities say could have stopped the slaying of 23-year-old Hansel Troy Andrews almost two years ago was sentenced to nine years in federal prison.
      Jon Elmer Mercer, 32, was connected to the death of Andrews last August when he was convicted of arson in Wexford County in a case that authorities said involved the destruction of evidence allegedly tied to the slaying.
      Brothers Michael and Robert Ostrander, ages 22 and 27, both of Cadillac, each face the death penalty if convicted of federal charges of drug-related murder in the case. Their case is expected to go to trial this fall.
      Mercer was arrested on federal charges of being an accessory after the fact to murder last August after he pleaded guilty to the state charges.
      Special Agent Richard Licht, supervisor of the FBI's East Lansing office, said Mercer was at meetings with the Ostranders and knew of the alleged plot to kill Andrews.
      Licht said Mercer was admonished at his sentencing Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen for not doing something to prevent Andrews' death.
      Another defendant in the case, Annelisa Sandborn of Cadillac, was sentenced in May to five years in federal prison for giving false statements to a grand jury investigating the slaying.
      Andrews, of Kalkaska, was last seen in August 2000 when he told his family that he was headed to Grand Rapids to buy a car.
      The FBI alleges that Andrews was murdered in connection with a marijuana and cocaine trafficking conspiracy with connections to Kalkaska, Grand Rapids, Cadillac and other Michigan cities.
      The case against Mercer involves a fire at a building in Haring Township that occurred on Aug. 20, 2000 - the same day Andrews is alleged to have been killed in what police have described as a drug deal gone bad.
      A tip led investigators to Andrews' remains on July 20, 2001, in a heavily wooded area in Selma Township.
      Patrick Sullivan is the reporter for crime, courts and public safety. He can be reached at (231) 933-1478, or at psullivan@record-eagle.com
     
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