Alissa Bickett suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her husband, Ryan Bickett, before he shot himself while playing Russian roulette in 2015, according to her defense lawyer. The couple’s son, Drake Bickett, witnessed the violence.
On Tuesday, Alissa Bickett, 44, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing her late husband’s mother, Marilyn Gandert, a 65-year-old postal worker who had recently evicted the Bicketts and their roommate from her home in Northwest Albuquerque. Drake Bickett faces up to 30 years for his own role in the case. Annie Rael, their roommate, was sentenced recently to 12 years.
Gandert’s body was found burned west of Rio Rancho.
Rael, who ultimately accepted a plea deal that required her to testify against her co-defendants, reported that she tackled and beat Gandert “at a nod from Alissa.” Alissa Bickett joined in the beating with a small club, bound Gandert’s hands and feet and put plastic bags over her head before Drake Bickett stabbed her repeatedly in the neck, prosecutor Michael Fricke wrote in a sentencing argument in which he lobbied for a 36-year sentence.
“Marilyn Gandert was killed because, after months of subsidizing her daughter-in-law’s housing, she could no longer afford to do so,” Fricke wrote.
Alissa Bickett’s attorney, on the other hand, argued for a 20-year sentence and in a memorandum filed July 21 described the abuse Ryan Bickett inflicted on his wife and said that Gandert had minimized her son’s monstrous conduct.
“For years Ryan’s conduct entered the realm of torture,” attorney Ed Bustamante wrote.
He said his client was savagely beaten on more than one occasion and at one point, Ryan Bickett hung her from a beam in their home and beat her for hours.
He played Russian roulette in front of his wife and children, and sometimes pointed the gun at Alissa Bickett and pulled the trigger, Bustamante wrote. When he shot himself in 2015, Gandert “through a whisper campaign within the family spread rumors Alissa had caused Ryan’s death.”
“What emerges from Annie Rael’s statement is that the violent death of Marilyn Gandert was spontaneous, unplanned and was the violent culmination of an explosion of drug use, systematic physical and mental torture by Ryan Bickett and the minimization of his monstrous conduct by Marilyn Gandert,” Bustamante wrote.