Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Grandfather of Henderson verbally leads jury to the murder scene

By NATALIE NEYSA ALUND

nalund@bradenton.com

BRADENTON - Prosecutors this afternoon verbally led jurors to the doorstep of the Richard Henderson Sr. mobile home where members of the family were beaten to death Thanksgiving Day, 2005.

"My wife did come back and started bawling. I asked her what's wrong. She just cried," Loyal Stringer Jr. testified in answer to a question from prosecutor Art Brown.

Stringer was called to the witness stand early in the state's case against his grandson, Richard Henderson Jr., on four first-degree murder charges.

Stringer's wife, Sandy Stringer, could testify later today to what she saw in the mobile home.

Earlier today, a crime-scene investigator read to the jury a note that Richard Henderson Jr. left in a bathroom sink, saying he had killed the four and should die for it.

Also at trial, prosecutor Art Brown produced a thick, brown, steel pipe that investigators say Henderson used to crush the skulls of his mother and father, 11-year-old brother, and 82-year-old grandmother on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005.

Previously, defense lawyer Franklin Roberts told the jury in an opening statement that Richard Henderson Jr., 22, suffered from severe mental illness and was insane at the time of the killings.

Stringer Jr., was the first family member to take the witness stand in the two-day-old trial.

Stringer recounted how he saw the entire Henderson family on the day they died. The family had gathered for Thanksgiving dinner at Stringer's son's house, Jeff Stringer, in Wauchula.

Prosecutor Brown asked Stringer if his grandson appeared "out of touch with reality."

Stringer replied, "Not really."

The grandfather said Richard Henderson Jr. seemed like he was in a hurry, "Acting like he really didn't wanna come - like kids do."

Over the next few days, Stringer said, his wife tried to call the Henderson house a few times but no one answered.

"My wife was getting a little nervous because she talked to Jeaneane Henderson every night," Stringer testified.

Jeaneane Henderson was the defendant's mother and one of four people killed.

Stringer said he and his wife drove to the Henderson house the Sunday after Thanksgiving. As they turned into the driveway, he said, they noticed the family van was gone.

As they decided to leave, they saw Richard Henderson Jr. driving the van toward them.

"I said, 'What are you doing with the van?' " Stringer said.

Stringer said Henderson responded, "I'm taking my girlfriend home."

The girlfriend, Stringer testified, appeared to have little color in her face.

"You could tell she was scared," Stringer said.

Henderson told his grandparents not to go to the house because his parents were fighting "real bad," Stringer testified.

He said his grandson's demeanor was normal.

Richard Henderson Jr. then drove off, Stringer said.

First to reach the house were Stringer's wife and brother. Inside the mobile home, walls and furnishing were spattered with the blood of the four victims. The four were dead in four different rooms.

"My wife did come back and started bawling. I asked her what's wrong. She just cried," Stringer said.

With that , the trial took an afternoon break.

Earlier, chief crime scene investigator Rich Talbot also told the jury he observed a steel pipe in a bedroom of the mobile home.

During Talbot's testimony, state's attorney Brown pulled a thick, brown, metal pipe from a paper bag and handed a photocopy of Henderson's note to jurors.

Talbot then read the entire note, at one point quoting Henderson: "I know I did it but I don't know why. I did not kill them out of hate or selfishness ... I'm so sorry mom, dad, grandma, bro. I deserve to die one billion times for each one of you. I felt useless."

The note was signed "Richard," Talbot said.

Testimony began Monday afternoon with the state beginning to make its case for guilt. If successful, prosecutors have said they will ask the jury to recommend the death penalty.

The state's second witness, Talbot, took the stand about 11:45 a.m. and said he observed a steel pipe in a bedroom of the home. He also said in the master bathroom he found a note in the sink that was close to Jeaneane Henderson's body.

Talbot is the Crime Scene Unit manager of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

The photos were held up by Brown and then tacked to a board so jurors could continue to look at them.

The two brothers, Richard Henderson Jr., then 19, and Jacob Henderson, 11, were playing a video game when the killing spree began, investigator Smith testified.

He said the name of the video game being played was Nintendo's Super Smash Brothers.

At some point while playing the video, Richard Henderson Jr. took the steel pipe and viciously hit his younger brother over the head, the prosecution claims. Smith testified blood-splatter evidence backs up that theory. Richard Henderson Jr. then shoved his dying brother out a window of the bedroom.

Blood splatter in Jacob's bedroom and throughout the Henderson's mobile home indicated the use of force and is consistent with blood flying from blows to body parts from a blunt object, said Smith.

Blood was found on an air conditioning unit, a chair and boxes throughout the house, and near the bodies.

All the bodies, Smith said, were found in separate rooms and covered with some sort of bedding materials from the torso up. Grandmother June Henderson was found face up in her bed. Jacob Henderson was on the floor in the laundry room. Mother Jeaneane Henderson was seated in a chair near the shower stall in the master bedroom. And, father Richard Henderson Sr. was in a chair in a hallway.

The prosecution has said Henderson, after pushing his brother out a window, later dragged him around the house and into the laundry room.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think he should recieve the death penalty after being raped in prison for the rest of his life.

Anonymous said...

No Doubt in my mine this man is in sane and was in sane at the time of the killing. But not so insane he did not know what he was he was doing. That is very clear, under Fl law to be insane you must not know what you was doing. or not know it was wrong. He knew what he was doing and he knew it was wrong. They must put this person to death

Anonymous said...

Well, if you knew as much about FL law as you think you do, you'd know that even if insanity doesn't reach the level of 'not knowing right from wrong' (in other words, 'seeing spaceships crazy') mental illness is still a mitigator.


When you do your homework, as hopefully you will, so as not in the future to post comments here that reveal you to be a complete fucking moron, you might want to read up on the bit about how the law "authorizes, but does not mandate" the death penalty for certain types of crimes. In other words: "They must" not put this person to death. Now, please: take your ghoulish, bloodthirsty derriere to the library, where you'll find something called 'books' -- those are the things with pages in them; & those pages will inform you that everything you think you know is wrong.


In any case: Fuck off!

PS: Congratulations on owning a "mine".

Collum Rubra, CHARLOTTE NCUS said...

To Anonymous

Your use of elegant words and pseudolegalistic terminology fails to hide your writing as coming from a mental idiot. Even if what write may arguendo be correct, you lose whatever serious input credability by your clearly biased arrogant, and condescending phraseology.

Given the punitive attitude that rules Florida, if there is a possibility for the death sentence, the worst crimes committed by the worst Ga-ga people will inevitably get the death penalty. In the past, in Florida as in most Southern States, guess who got the chair or gas, and guess who got a slap on the wrist.

What Sissel is trying to do is God's work; she won't butt out, so save your rabid noise for the next klukker meeting.

Collum Rubra
CHARLOTTE NCUS

Anonymous said...

I knew him we went to school together lived in the same town I knew his family threw seeing them at Myakka city store He was normal I liked him when I came home to visit my family with my BF and heard about this I cryed what evil took hold of you Richard My sister knew him well. She wrote him in prison a few times I pray that hes not being raped like you said I'am a christian and in the bible it says that the ppl of the law have the right to put some one to death and it's not a sin I pray for your soul Richard I pray you find Jesus and ask him for forgiveness if you where or will be put to death I pray you Find as for forgiveness be for you die !!!

Anonymous said...

The sad part of all this is, all these years later I find out. Richard was my class mate....I knew him....I saw him....every day. I remember him as a CHILD! A chunky little quiet child. I hope for the sake of his family justice has been done, but it's so hard to wish death on someone I remember laughing with and feeling pity for because nothing....was easy for him. Though nothing can be so bad as to murder your family.
Before any of you are quick to throw the "hate" and "death" card, think about your class mate or your own child, family member, or friend, because one day someone close to you may be just another Richard.

Anonymous said...

I knew Rich and his family also. It haunts me thinking about being in his home with his family. This was a tragedy but I do not wish any harm on Rich. He was my friend and I pray he has found God.