Henderson jurors defend decision

Jurors defend penalty process:

This is an article about the jury defending its position on not sending Richard Henderson Jr. to death row.

After hours of determining his guilt, it took the jury fewer than 10 minutes to decide on a recommendation for Henderson’s punishment. Staples said nine jurors voted for life and three voted for death.

The brevity of the deliberations stemmed from conversations the group had earlier while determining whether to convict Henderson, Staples said. Jury members had discussed issues that would affect the penalty phase.

“In looking at it, a majority of us found that the death penalty was not appropriate in this case,” Staples said.

For Staples and the majority who voted for life, these mitigating factors stood out:

• Henderson’s criminal history: As far as the jury knew, he did not have a violent past.

• His love for his family: “Not one witness said he had (serious) problems with his family,” Staples said. “There was clear testimony all around he loved them.”

• His mental illness: “He didn’t get the care he needed,” Staples said, referring to Henderson’s psychiatric history. “Some, he sabotaged or didn’t want, yeah, but he was a kid and there was some responsibility on his parents and society to help him.”

Some testimony during the punishment phase of the trial also had an impact on why the jury did not recommend death, Staples said.

For example, Henderson’s grandfather, Loyal Stringer, described Henderson as “good guy.”

“It’s a tragic loss, but when his grandparents took the stand and proved they could still love him despite what has happened – that speaks toward what we had already thought.” Staples said. “That confirms our belief he wasn’t a cold, calculating monster.”

How could the death penalty not apply? How many of his family would he have had to bludgeon to death before the death penalty applied? If he really loved his family HE WOULDN’T HAVE BEAT THEM TO DEATH WITH A PIPE! He did have a violent criminal history. He planned to shoot up a high school or was the jury not told that part? And the juror basically contradicted himself in the quote about mental illness. If he sabotaged his own treatment then he was well aware if what was going on around him.

It’s not the gravest of injustices because Henderson did receive four life sentences. However I think Henderson more than deserved the death penalty and the jury’s reasoning behind not giving it to him was flawed.

Henderson sentenced

Judge sentences Richard Henderson Jr. to life in prison:

As I predicted the jury recommended that Richard Henderson Jr.’s life should be spared. On that recommendation Judge Diana Moreland sentenced Henderson to four life sentences. One for each of the family members he killed. Henderson will never be eligible for parole.

I’m not surprised but I’m still disappointed. If anybody deserved the death penalty it’s Henderson. However I get the feeling that Henderson will be a troublemaker in prison and you know what that can get you.

Henderson guilty


It took jurors 15-hours of deliberations but in the end they did the right thing. They saw through Richard Henderson Jr.’s excuses and convicted him of slaughtering his family.

The five-man, seven-woman jury found Henderson guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of his father, Richard Henderson Sr., 48; his mother, Jeaneane Henderson, 42; and his grandmother, June Henderson, 82. Jurors found Henderson guilty of second-degree murder for killing his 11-year-old brother Jacob, who was attacked first.

There was never any doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t be convicted. Now comes the hard part. The same jury will determine whether or not Henderson gets the death penalty. I’m not as sure about this. I think that now the mental illness excuse will come into play. Also take into consideration that Henderson wants to be put to death. I think those two factors will probably result in life without parole.

I hope I’m wrong but that’s how it will probably play out.

And even he if his sentenced to death he’ll probably be old and gray before it gets carried out because of the appeals process. Not to mention that the trial was almost thrown out so I’m sure we’ll be seeing an appeal based on these grounds.

Henderson defense rests

Henderson’s lawyers rest their case; rebuttal witness to testify:

Short story even shorter.

The defense rested yesterday.

Henderson will not be taking the stand.

The prosecution will be calling a rebuttal witness. One Dr. Wade Myers, a psychiatrist who will counter yesterday’s testimony by Dr. McClain.

Another shrink testifies for Henderson

Witness: Henderson insane when he killed family members:

More psycho-babble from the defense in the trial of Richard Henderson Jr. This time from forensic psychologist Dr. Valerie McClain.

“At the time, he had a break in reality,” she testified.

McClain, whose studies include the science of brain and behavior relationship, said it is possible for a person to be insane over a period of time.

At some point, she said Henderson “comes back into reality,” possibly on the weekend after the deaths.

“I think he’s becoming aware of what occurred … coming back into reality. But it does not suggest he is avoiding detection.”

She also said Henderson did not flee, but stayed in house overnight, sleeping in his parents’ bed near his mother’s body.

Isn’t that convenient? Not for his family though.


Scars shown to jury at Henderson trial:

Yesterday was the day for courtroom theatrics in the Henderson trial.

It started with his emo scars.

Accused killer Richard Henderson Jr. rose from his seat Monday, walked to the jury box and stood directly in front the jury whose members will decide his fate.

The 22-year-old, on trial for allegedly bludgeoning four family members to death on Thanksgiving Day 2005, rolled up his sleeves and exposed scarred forearms.

Some jurors leaned in towards him and closely observed dozens of marks on the defendant’s arms – the result of self-mutilation, according to Henderson’s lead defense attorney, Carolyn Schlemmer.

Earlier in the day, Nicholas Roberts – a defense witness who said he previously worked for Henderson’s parents doing lawn service – testified that he had seen Henderson cut himself when they were younger.

“He pretty much always had cuts on him,” Roberts said during the sixth day of testimony in Henderson’s capital murder trial.

Staples, razors, knives, “anything with a point on it,” are among some of the objects that Henderson used to hurt himself, said Roberts, who has known Henderson since eighth grade. Henderson also frequently talked about suicide, he said.

Then he should have killed himself not his entire family.

Now let’s hear from the doctors…

Dr. Dilip Chaparala, a psychiatrist at Manatee Glens who testified for the defense, confirmed Henderson’s self-mutilating and “superficial cuts.” He said he learned of the injuries because he said Henderson was admitted to the mental health facility on two occasions in 2001 and 2002 after getting in trouble for a group suicide plot involving three juveniles at Lakewood Ranch High School.

Let me stop Dr. Chalupa right there for a second. Since Henderson’s cuts were superficial it sounds like to me he was just an attention whore. Real cutters hide their cuts. And the group suicide plot was more than that, it was also a plan to attack a high school. Which is how I got interested in this case. But let’s get back to Dr. Chpotle…

Chaparala also said Henderson was diagnosed with major depression and that he was on and off of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications in the years prior to the killings. Some of the medicine included Lithium, Paxil and Zoloft.

This becomes important later.

Another psychologist, Dr. Richard Droz, testified he met with Henderson seven times from July 2001 through April 2003, after Henderson Jr. was referred to him following the group suicide plot.

The doctor described Henderson as a misfit, and said Henderson told him he was constantly picked on at school and felt like an outcast.

If you’re cutting yourself for attention and talking about suicide all the time you may just get picked on at school. But again he didn’t kill his alleged bullies did he?

Dr. Droz continues…

Droz said Henderson’s parents didn’t take his mental health problems seriously. He described them as hardworking, but unsophisticated and simple people.

If Henderson was on Lithium, Paxil, and Zoloft it sounds like his family did take his mental problems seriously. And from what I’ve heard from friends of the family Henderson’s parents did everything in their power to help him.

Now let’s sprinkle in a dash of junk science.

Also on Monday, Psychiatrist Joseph Wu, with the Brain Imaging Center at the University of California at Irvine College of Medicine, took the stand and showed jurors a scan of Henderson’s brain taken in August 2006.

“It’s clearly abnormal in my opinion,” said Wu, an expert witness for the defense.

Using a Power Point presentation, Wu compared the scan to a “normal” brain and said Henderson’s brain indicated an abnormality consistent with problems including schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, a brain injury or a combination of all of them.

Well it must be legit if he’s using Power Point. My point being is that it does not excuse murder. I don’t care if his brain was nothing but sawdust.

Henderson jury sees autopsy photos

Henderson prosecution rests, defense calls first witnesses:

Short article…

Just before the state rested its case today in the capital murder trial of Richard Henderson Jr., disturbing autopsy photos caused some jurors to wince and one to hold her hands over her eyes.

Dr. Wilson Broussard, the medical examiner for the 12th Judicial Circuit, was showing the jury close-up autopsy photos of the slain parents, Richard Sr. and Jeaneane, when the juror who had covered her eyes passed a note to the bailiff. Other jurors cringed at the sight of the photos.

The bailiff passed the note to Circuit Judge Diana Moreland, who called a 10-minute break in the proceedings. The juror who passed the note then put her head in her lap and placed her hands over her head.

Shortly after the state rested, the defense called its first five witnesses, including two elementary school teachers from Myakka City Elementry who testified that Henderson was disruptive and struggled academically.

Disruptive and struggled academically does not mean insane.

Court hears Henderson tapes

Henderson jury hears ’05 taped confessions:

Yesterday in the ongoing trial of Richard Henderson Jr. the court got to hear recordings of Henderson that took place shortly after his arrest. He claims that he loved his family.

“It wasn’t out of anger, I had problems, I can’t believe what I did,” the then-20-year-old Henderson said in a taped interview with the Herald on Dec. 1, 2005 – eight days after he allegedly murdered four members of his family in their Myakka City mobile home.

Henderson, during the phone call recorded from the Manatee County jail, told the newspaper the killings were not premeditated.

“It just happened,” Henderson said on the tape, in between periods of crying.

The guy is an attention whore pure and simple. He’s been feeding the media since his arrest. Not only that but just because it wasn’t premeditated you still killed your entire family. With any luck Death Row is holding a room for you.

Henderson also confessed he loved his family, had struggled with drug use, including Xanax, and had been bipolar and depressed since he was 13.

“Me being in here for this is more pain than anyone can put me through,” Henderson said on the tape. “I don’t want people thinking I’m a homicidal killer.”

Jurors also heard Henderson’s voice in a taped face-to-face jail interview with the case’s lead detective, Darin Bankert. Henderson again confirmed his love for his family.

“How could someone love their family so much and kill them?” Henderson asked.

Bankert responded on the tape, “Again, that comes down to the legal definition of insanity.”

How about the legal definition of soulless bastard? And so what if he was depressed since he was 13. I’ve been depressed for longer than that and so have a lot of other people but as I keep saying we didn’t kill anybody let alone our entire families.

In other testimony a state DNA expert testified that all four victims’ DNA was found on the pipe used to kill them. Also a pawn shop owner testified that Henderson sold almost $400 worth of merchandise to her the day after the murders.

Possible mistrial for Henderson

Henderson defense seeks mistrial:

Thge defense for Richard Henderson Jr. are calling for a mistrial after one of the prosecution’s witness’ statement did not match her pretrial statement.

The request by lead defense attorney Carolyn Schlemmer came on the third day of testimony after the prosecution’s last witness of the day testified Henderson had told her he realized that his actions were wrong on the day he allegedly murdered his 11-year-old brother, parents and grandmother.

Witness Jennifer McCreary, who dated Henderson for a year in 2001-02, started to tell jurors Wednesday that Henderson had admitted to her what happened on the evening of the crime. She testified he told her he was playing video games with his brother, Jacob, in his room and that he killed him with a steel pipe.

“He realized what he had done and threw his brother’s body out the window,” McCreary said.

After killing his brother, she continued, Henderson told her he realized he had to kill his whole family. She said he went to his grandmother’s room and asked her to get something out of a nightstand, then killed her with a pipe.

“He closed the door so his father wouldn’t see,” McCreary said.

Henderson also hid the pipe, McCreary testified, and at one point retrieved it and wrapped a towel around it.

At that point in McCreary’s testimony, Judge Diana Moreland dismissed the jury for their evening break.

Out of the presence of the jury, defense attorney Carolyn Schlemmer told the judge that she was unaware the realization statement was ever made.

“There have been no statements (that) he realized what he did until this,” Schlemmer said.

Initially, Schlemmer said, McCreary gave a statement to the state attorney and a statement to the defense, but “at no point” did Henderson tell her he pushed his brother out the window because he realized what he did.

Way to go prosecution. You may have just screwed up what was a slam dunk. If the judge declares a mistrial a new trial would take place at a later date.

Today however the prosecution is trying to backtrack.

When McCreary retook the stand this morning, prosecutor Brian Iten asked her if she was sure that Henderson told her, “he realized what he had done.”

Said McCreary: “I’m not too confident.”

Iten then said to her: “Then you acknowledge when you gave a statement to the state attorney’s office you never mentioned that before.”

McCreary said, “Yes.”

Iten then asked the court to instruct the jury to disregard the statement made to the jury that he had realized what he had done.

Judge Moreland then instructed the jury to disregard that portion of McCreary’s testimony.

You can’t unring the bell.

As of the time I am posting this I have yet to hear a ruling on the mistrial request.

Testimony continues in Henderson trial

Witnesses testify to Henderson’s describing people dying:

More testimony about how Richard Henderson Jr. is not insane just fucked up.

William Klein, a friend of Henderson’s, said the two were smoking pot and drinking alcohol three days after the murders of four Henderson family members. As they talked, he quoted Henderson as saying, “Something to the affect of how it sounds when somebody dies…bones are crunching, bodies gurgling.”

Katie Kadisak, 17, said that she had spent time with Henderson the weekend after the killings. She said Henderson told her that it is very easy to crack someone’s skull, and that when someone is dying they twitch and gurgle.

Also on the stand this afternoon during the third day of testimony was Henderson’s friend, Christina Depetris, who said with Henderson jailed the two exchanged letters. She read from one of the letters he wrote, saying, “I did that horrible thing – I’ll never forget the sound of the (TV-video) remote hitting the ground.”

The defense questioned witnesses on Henderson’s thoughts of suicide…

Henderson’s ex-girlfriend told the court today that he discussed suicide the day after the murders.

Danielle Kervin was asked about suicide by defense lawyer Franklin Roberts.

To Robert’s questioning, Kervin said that, yes, Henderson had talking about killing himself. She said Henderson had asked her if she would join him in taking an overdose of pills.

While Kervin answered questions, she nervously played with her hair and occasionally looked over at Henderson, who sat at the defense table. He sat slumped down in a chair during the morning testimony, occasionally resting his chin on a hand and twirling a pencil. He was dressed in a dark sweatshirt and baggy blue jeans.

Another witness on the stand, Eric Weger, 20, also said Henderson talked of suicide. He said, to a prosecutor’s questions, that he took it more of a joke that Henderson was talking of killing himself. Later, when asked by the defense lawyer if Henderson was laughing when he said this, Weger said Henderson was not laughing.

Asked if Henderson seemed to be hearing voices, Weger told the state’s lawyer he didn’t think so. Asked by a defense lawyer if he had observed Henderson talking to unseen voices, Weger said no.

This little tidbit leads me to believe he damn well knew the difference between right and wrong…

Witness Stacy Dean, 21, said that on Sunday three days after the killings she was asked by Henderson to drive to Wauchula and pick up Henderson, Kervin and another young woman, and she did. A previous witness had said Henderson dropped the family van in Wauchula and needed a ride.

When the four in the van drove by the Henderson family’s mobile home outside Myakka City, Dean said there were sheriff’s cars there with lights flashing.

She said Henderson ducked down in the back seat of the van. When she asked him why he had slumped out of sight, he said his parents must have called the cops on him.

And motive…

Earlier in court, witnesses said Henderson – on the Friday after the killings – picked up his girlfriend for a weekend date, tried to sell his family’s electronics, bought illegal drugs and passed out at the mall.

Amy DonSalvo said she was approached by Henderson as he tried to sell a TV and a computer. He told her she would have to go pick them up at his family’s house near Myakka City. He told her he wanted cash or drugs that could be sold for cash, DonSalvo said.

He’s not insane, he’s just a murderous drug addict.