Posted on Wed, May. 16, 2007
By REBECCA BLUE
The man authorities say confessed to killing four family members Thanksgiving Day in 2005 says he wants to be sentenced to death if found guilty of the slayings.
In a letter to the Bradenton Herald received Tuesday, Richard E. Henderson Jr. said he is "happy to be closing in on the day (I)'ll know where my future lies."
"As for if I get the Death instead of life or possibly something else, Great, (I)'ll be happy. I'd rather get Death (than) life so I don't have to witness the schemes and abuse of Authority the state lives by," he wrote, in a letter riddled with misspelled words and grammatical errors.
Henderson, 22, is scheduled to stand trial this summer on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother, father, paternal grandmother and younger brother in their home near Myakka City.
In the letter, Henderson also reacted to a jury's recommendation that Blaine Ross, who was convicted in April of killing his mother and father in January 2004, be sentenced to death.
Henderson wrote that Ross should not be executed.
"I (really) hate to see (B)laine in such a perdicament (sic)," he wrote.
"We have all done something wrong in our lives but to give someone the death penality (sic) is just as bad as murdering someone."
Henderson and Ross have been incarcerated together at the Manatee County jail since Henderson's arrest in November 2005. Also awaiting trial is Clifford Davis, who is charged with killing his mother and grandfather 10 days after the Henderson killings.
Henderson had previously objected to being compared to Ross, telling the Bradenton Herald in December 2005, "I'm nothing like Blaine Ross. I love my parents, my whole family. What I did to them, there's no explanation."
Joyce Henderson, the sister-in-law of Henderson's late father, Rich, told the Bradenton Herald earlier this month she hopes Ross gets the death penalty, setting a precedent for her nephew.
"We are still looking forward to him getting the best sentence - the death penalty. We simply don't want to keep reliving this. We just can't seem to get away from it," she said.
In his most recent letter to the Herald, Henderson said he didn't care what his family thinks, and that they barely know him.
"I want them to know if I do get the death penality (sic) I will haunt their dreams and forever taint the blood of our family," he wrote.
Henderson said the deaths of his family members are the fault of others. Everyone, he wrote, should stop judging him.
"The way I see it, it's their fault, if someone could of got me help instead of gossiping, maybe my family (would) be alive, maybe I could of had a normal life," he wrote.
"The Guilt of the crimes lies in the so called innocent, we were just the puppets that released the evil society breeds. You want Justice, you want us to feel pain, our whole lives have been pain. Me being in here with no friends, no family, just guilt, that's pain. Just keep gossiping . . . cause pain is coming to a place called home. Let's see how you handle it."
Defense attorneys have said they plan to use an insanity defense in Henderson's trial.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Henderson, but if convicted by reason of insanity, a judge can sentence him to a mental facility as long as deemed necessary.
Henderson's maternal grandparents declined to comment Tuesday.
Assistant State Attorney Art Brown declined to comment on the letter. Henderson's defense attorney, Carolyn Schlemmer, did not return phone calls.
Rebecca Blue, Herald criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.
Richard Henderson Jr.'s letter
The following is a letter from Richard Henderson Jr. sent from Manatee County jail last week. All spelling and grammar is as written.
Hey, long time no hear. I have plenty to say too.
Let's start off with Blaine. i realy hate to see blaine in such a perdicament. We have all done something wrong in our lives but to give someone the death penality is just as bad as murdering someone. To me their is no diffrence, and Florida is the only State that doesn't need a unamous vote to give someone the d.p. Shows how far behind this State is.
As for my case im happy to be closing in on the day i'll know where my future lies. As for if I get the Death instead of life or possibly something else, Great, ill be happy. Id rather get Death then life so I don't have to witness the schemes and abuse of Authority the State lives by. As for my so called Family, let me make this clear. I don't give a damn what they think, they say they know me how can that be if I only saw them 7 times in my life, to hell with them, I want them to know if I do get the death penality I will haunt their dreams and forever taint the blood of our Family. The way I see it, it's their fault, if someone could of got me help instead of gossiping maybe my family be alive, maybe I could of had a normal life," he wrote. "But no, everyone wants to talk, to judge. Find a way to live my life, to do all I did, to fell all my pain then you can judge me. How many Virginia tech massacers, how many columbines, how many Ross's, Davis's, Henderson's is it gonna take to show kid's are not being properly raised/helped/counsaled like they need to be. The Guilt of the crimes lies in the so called innocent, we were just the puppets that released the evil society breeds. You want Justice, you want us to feel pain, our whole lives have been pain. Me being in here with no friends, no family, just guilt, that's pain. Just keep gossiping, keep . . . cause pain is coming to a place called home. Let's see how you handle it.