California: Madera Tribune, Saturday, March 8, 2003

Killer gets 15 years to life

By GLENNA JARVIS, staff writer

He killed her because he “loved her.”

These words summed up the only semblance of a motive brought to light in the murder of Andrea Born. These words, read by Madera County Superior Court Judge Thomas Bender, came from a letter written by her killer.

These words were met with guarded anger and disgust from family and friends who crowded the courtroom Friday afternoon to witness the sentencing of 33-year-old Jacob Lee Travis.

Bender called the murder a “cold and calloused thing” and said that while Born must have seen some goodness in Travis to have loved him, “any goodness evaporated when he pulled the trigger.”

The letter Travis wrote to Bender said that because he loved her so much, he didn’t want to see her with someone else, that “if he couldn’t have her, no one could.”

“True love doesn’t kill,” Bender said.

Travis was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life for the murder of 20-year-old Andrea Born, a student at Fresno State University, on July 4, 1997. He entered a plea of guilty to second degree murder on Feb. 7.

Born’s charred remains were found by California Highway Patrol officers who saw smoke rising from an orchard near Avenue 7 and State Route 99.

Gloria Barnes, Born’s mother, said the experience was the “worst nightmare you could imagine” and expressed her disgust at the plea bargain that could allow Travis to go free in just over 11 years.

“She was brutally murdered ... just 11 days before her 21st birthday,” Barns said. “She was cremated on her 21st birthday.”

She added that Travis was “deceptive” and a “good actor,” he had been welcomed into their home and had meals with them.

“I never could see what she saw in him,” Barnes said.

While Travis’ attorney, Eric Green, stated during the preliminary hearing that the evidence against Travis was “almost anorexic,” prosecuting attorney Catherine Tennant with the Attorney General’s office said Friday that Travis’ lack of control and his anger over Born seeing another man led him to kill and burn her, and she was confident that the evidence against Travis would have been enough to convict him of first degree murder had the case gone to trial.

She added that she also felt confident that the parole board would “see fit to keep Mr. Travis behind bars the rest of his life.”

Flashing a photograph of Born’s charred remains, she said she didn’t want Travis to ever forget what he did, adding that he treated her like “unwanted trash he wanted to get rid of” and that he had done so with “heartless indifference to human life.”

Travis had positioned her body in a degrading manner, she said, again indicating his control and power over her.

“By giving him 15 to life with the possibility of parole, the state is sending a message,” Barnes said. “That it’s not all that bad to take someone from her apartment ... and ... shoot her twice in the head. The autopsy report said she drowned in her own blood.”

She said Travis didn’t even have the decency to finish the job, but allowed Born to die slowly while he drove to his house, found plastic containers, went to a gas station to fill the containers with gasoline, drove to an orchard in Madera County and dumped and burned her body.

Barnes said Travis had five prior felony convictions, four of which had been stricken, and the use of a firearm - another felony offense due to his prior convictions - was also stricken, otherwise the murder would have landed Travis in prison for the rest of his life.

“He poured gasoline all over her body and set her on fire so I could never see my daughter again,” Barnes said. “What does someone have to do to get real justice?”

Numerous letters from family, educators and friends were submitted to Bender, and an eight-minute videotape of Born’s life was played for the judge before he made the decision to accept the plea and sentence Travis.

The letters, as well as friends who spoke during Friday’s proceedings, expressed grief, and a strong conviction that Travis should remain forever behind bars.

“This is one of the most horrible, horrible things to happen, and (Travis) doesn’t deserve to walk free ever again,” college friend Julie Barron said.

Brandy Esquivel, a friend of Born, said she was “very appalled” that Travis might become a free man in 11 years.

“(Travis) took someone’s life,” she said. “He went to a gas station, he disposed of the body, and tried to erase all forensic evidence. That took premeditation.”

In addition to the 15 years to life sentence, Travis was ordered to pay restitution totaling $400, pay a $315 fine, and a total of $12,624 to the victim compensation program. Travis was credited two years for time served since his arrest in March 2001.

Glenna Jarvis is a news/police/courts writer for the Madera Tribune. You can contact Glenna at 559.674.8134 ext. 223 or e-mail at gjarvis@maderatribune.com

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