ALBERTVILLE, Ala. – Monday marked 26 years since the death of Albertville Police detective Ernest Andrew “Andy” Whitten.
Whitten was shot and killed at his home during a murder-for-hire incident on Jan. 24, 1995.
He survived long enough to identify the murderers before passing away the next morning. Whitten was survived by his parents and brother.
His memory lives on through them and his best friend, current Albertville Assistant Police Chief J.T. Cartee.
The two became friends when Cartee started ninth grade at Albertville High School.
Cartee said he enjoyed helping Whitten and his family on their farm, having dinner with them and chatting with Whitten’s father, who was in law enforcement.
He told News 19 he later joined Whitten on the Albertville Police force.
Cartee said Whitten became a K9 unit officer with a German Shepherd named Niko.
After being on patrol for a while, they decided to work toward becoming detectives by taking classes and later teaching other Albertville and surrounding agency officers evidence collection.
They also launched a forensics lab in the garage of Whitten’s home.
Cartee said he often wonders what might have been had Whitten not been murdered.
He told News 19 he suspects he would likely have become the Marshall County Sheriff.
He explained that he was told of the shooting by his mother who was listening to the scanner at the time.
Cartee went to the hospital where Whitten later died.
“I miss him. You don’t ever get over a death like that,” said Cartee as he reflected on the anniversary of his best friend’s passing. “He was always reaching for the stars, always had those great aspirations and one of the things I remember about him, he just loved life. He was always happy.”
Cartee said Whitten’s death caused him to contemplate leaving law enforcement.
But when he saw the respect the community had for his friend at the funeral, even from people Whitten had arrested, he decided to stick with it.
All three suspects involved in Whitten’s death were charged with murder.
Two were sentenced to death and the third was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
One had his sentence reduced to life in prison without parole in 2005 when the United States supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional to execute convicted murderers who committed their crimes as juveniles.
Cartee said he has now forgiven those involved in Whitten’s murder, but that they should continue to be held accountable for their actions.