A former Lake Havasu City resident was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison for the alleged murder of his daughter – and according to Mohave Superior Court Judge Billy Sipe, it’s far less than he may deserve.
Andrew J. Lamorie, 24, has remained in Mohave County Jail since January 2018. With full credit for time served, Lamorie could be released from the Arizona Department of Corrections within 13 years.
But as Lamorie awaits transportation to an Arizona prison to begin his sentence, family members struggle to cope with the crime.
According to statements last month by the Mohave County Attorney’s Office, a backlog of cases indirectly caused by the coronavirus pandemic has pressured prosecutors into seeking pleas in this and other high-profile cases this summer.
Lamorie and the child’s mother, 27-year-old Brittany Rodriquez, were each initially offered plea agreements by prosecutors, which would have required that each serve about 25 years in prison on charges of second-degree murder, without the possibility of early release. Both parties refused that agreement, and have since pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Rodriquez’ half-sister, Colorado resident Britney Hartman, has followed the case since it began. She appeared Friday at Lamorie’s sentencing hearing.
“He deserves life for the life he stole,” Hartman said. “Gabby only got two years and they were filled with so much torment and pain. But under the situation at hand with covid … the system was backed up as it was, until it came to a grinding halt. I understand sacrifices had to be made, but that doesn’t make this easy.”
According to Hartman, the presiding judge cared little for the compromise made by prosecutors in the case.
“Judge Sipe said Andrew deserved more time,” Hartman said after the hearing. “Andrew should be facing trial for first-degree murder charges. He deserves every day of what (Sipe) could give him, and more.”
A Life in Pictures
For members of Lamorie’s extended family, Gabriella is remembered through family photographs.
There are images of newborn Gabriella, cradled by each parents beneath the dim lights of a hospital room in September 2015. Images of family gatherings, of Gabriella playing beneath the sun with her older sister – happy, vibrant, and alive.
“(Gabriella) was always cheerful,” Hartman said in a 2019 interview. “She was full of life, smiling … she loved animals. The last time I saw her, their family came down to celebrate Christmas when Gabby was a year old. We spent the weekend together … shortly after that they moved to Arizona, and I never saw any of them again.”
The Cycle of Abuse
According to statements by Lamorie’s mother to Lake Havasu City Police detectives, Andrew Lamorie was the victim of physical abuse by his stepfather for more than 10 years. According to police, she believed Lamorie may have followed in his footsteps.
Rodriquez was a nursing student in Colorado when she first met Lamorie, and moved to Wyoming with him after the birth of their first child.
According to alleged statements by family members to Lake Havasu City Police detectives, Lamorie was possessive and controlling of Rodriquez – to the extent of limiting her ability to communicate with her sister and mother, and deleting her social media accounts. Rodriquez soon became withdrawn from friends and family after moving in with Lamorie, they said.
Rodriquez’ mother recalled a conversation with her daughter after a fight with Lamorie several years prior to Lamorie’s arrest. According to alleged statements to investigators, Lamorie became physically abusive. During one incident, she allegedly told investigator, Lamorie struck the mother of his children with enough force to knock out her two front teeth.
Rodriquez’ sister confronted her about her staying with Lamorie after that incident, according her own alleged statements to police. Rodriquez allegedly told her sister, “It’s hard to leave someone you have kids with, even if they hit you.”
After that confrontation, Rodriquez stopped communicating with her sister. Rodriquez would only accept communication from family members via text, typically replying within 24 to 48 hours. Rodriquez’ sister allegedly told police she believed her messages were inspected by members of Lamorie’s family before Rodriquez would reply.
Andrew Lamorie rode in an ambulance on the night of Jan. 11, 2018, accompanying his 2-year-old daughter as paramedics rushed her to Havasu Regional Medical Center.
There may have been little he could do to comfort his daughter – if that was at all possible.
Gabriella was found shortly beforehand, lying on the floor of Lamorie’s Appletree Drive home. She was conscious, according to police, but barely breathing. Investigators would later say the child had been severely malnourished, and her rib cage had been clearly visible when medical officials examined her.
When Lamorie’s daughter was received by hospital staff, he was told he would not be allowed to be with her. Gabriella was carted from the ambulance and into Havasu Regional Medical Center – It was the last time Lamorie would ever see her.
The victim was soon flown to a Las Vegas children’s hospital for emergency medical treatment. She survived on life support for three more days, according to investigators, before she was declared brain dead.
Medical officials allegedly told investigators the child suffered multiple brain contusions, brain bleeding, bruises to her face and head, and apparent trauma to her abdomen consistent with physical abuse. The child was also about half the size of a normal child her age, according to the report – and even if had survived, she would never have lived a normal life.
According to the incident report, Lamorie later told detectives that Gabriella was a happy, healthy 2-year-old. He allegedly told detectives Gabriella and her 3-year-old sibling fought over a toy in their home, and Lamorie put Gabriella in their home’s closet for a “time out.”
He allegedly told detectives that night that he believed his daughter may have been climbing on a small desk in the closet, and may have fallen. The Clark County Coroner’s Office ruled Gabriella Lamorie’s death to have been caused by blunt head and neck trauma.
According to alleged statements by Rodriquez, the victim suffered physical abuse by Lamorie. Her statements to investigators after his arrest indicated that Lamorie would discipline his daughter by “spanking” the top of her head with his open hand. She allegedly told investigators she should have done more to protect her daughter from Lamorie.
Lamorie and Rodriquez were each charged with first-degree murder after the child’s death.
After Lamorie’s initial arrest, Lake Havasu City Police officers obtained a warrant to search Lamorie’s residence. According to a report from the Mohave County Probation Office, officers found blood-stained bedding and pillowcase inside the closet where Gabriella was found. Also found inside the closet were a pocket knife, screwdriver, bottles of hot sauce, a battery-operated drill, multiple bongs and several bags of marijuana.
Officers also found a dog at the scene, which was allegedly suffering from a broken leg. The animal was taken into police custody and transferred to the Western Arizona Humane Society.
Lamorie has denied wrongdoing in the case even after he accepted a plea agreement with Mohave County prosecutors last month.
“Lamorie has not taken responsibility for his actions and seems to harbor a victim mentality,” probation officials said in a pre-sentencing report earlier this month. “He has refused to acknowledge his involvement in the death of his 2-year-old daughter and instead contributed her death as a chronic lung condition and pneumonia, despite neither being mentioned in her autopsy report.”
In Lamorie’s interview with probation officers, prior to sentencing, he was asked if he felt he was treated fairly.
“I feel there was a lot of misjudgment and bias toward me,” Lamorie allegedly said.
Brittany Rodriquez signed a plea agreement with prosecutors earlier this month, in which she will receive five to ten years in prison on charges of felony child abuse. She is scheduled to appear in Mohave County Superior Court for sentencing in the case on Aug. 7.