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Man sentenced to 26 years in grandmother’s killing

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

In January 2018, Drake Bickett teamed up with his mother and roommate to kill

Drake Bickett

his grandmother, who had days before evicted the trio from her home in Northwest Albuquerque.

Now, he’s headed to prison to serve a 26-year sentence for second-degree murder and conspiracy.

Finding that he was “just slightly, slightly less culpable” than his mother, state District Court Judge Cindy Leos on Wednesday imposed a sentence only a bit shorter than the 30 years she handed down to Alissa Bickett in July. Leos said Alissa Bickett appeared to have been the ring leader and had planned the attack, while the others “were willingly along for the ride.”

The third defendant in the case, Annie Rael, reported that she tackled and beat Marilyn 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, according to court documents. Gandert’s body was found burned west of Rio Rancho.

Bickett’s lawyer, Stefanie Gulley, said her client had grown up with a violent father who shot himself while playing Russian Roulette when Drake was 16.

According to a psychologist who evaluated him, Bickett was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and he used methamphetamine. Gulley questioned whether her client even knew what he was doing when he participated in the murder and argued for 24 years, the minimum sentence allowed under his plea agreement.

“He still expresses love for his grandmother,” she said. “He misses her.”

Prosecutor John Duran said the violent, calculated crime deserved the maximum penalty of 30 years.

“We believe the physical evidence shows that Drake had an option and a choice to make,” Duran said. “If Marilyn was bound and essentially incapacitated at that point, he had a choice to either stop, withdraw, defend or finish the job.”

As he addressed the courtroom, Gandert’s brother said his sister was a good person who was looking forward to retirement. He watched Drake grow up, and never thought he and his mother were capable of murder.

“I’d like to understand why they did it,” he said. “That’s the big thing is why?”

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