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Court resumes Friday in the Christopher Henderson death penalty case

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 9:19 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE: Judge Comer started Friday’s court proceedings by reporting another jury was dismissed from the case and replaced with an alternate. This juror was not dismissed for any reason due to the trial, according to the judge.

The trial started Friday with an expert who talked about the autopsy reports and showed pictures of the autopsies of all the victims.

Jean Smallwood’s autopsy was first. The expert reports she was stabbed and shot several times. Next, Kristen Henderson’s autopsy report was talked about. The expert said she was shot in the neck and stabbed several times.

The expert testifies that it appears Kristen was not breathing at the time the fire started. The following autopsy reports talked about were from the nephew and the son. The witness testified to multiple sharp force injuries or stabbings. The expert also talked about the unborn baby’s injuries. He said it appears the baby was removed from Kristen, but it’s unclear if the baby was stabbed during that or if she was stabbed after.

Rhonda Carlson, Henderson’s other wife, is taking the stand Friday afternoon to testify against Henderson as a witness as she allegedly assisted Henderson throughout the killings.

Original: Court proceedings will continue Friday in the Christopher Henderson case. On Thursday jurors watched heartbreaking body camera footage of a mother who watched a house become engulfed in flames.

Judge Comer has excused another juror on Friday for reasons unrelated to this case. However, the juror has been replaced by an alternate.

In the video, you can hear the mother tell a deputy that responded to the scene that her baby and nephew were inside. That deputy is seen getting a gas mask from his car and then working to break the windows in the house to help. This was just one of the pieces of evidence that were presented in the trial on Thursday.

The first witness called to the stand by the prosecution was that deputy who responded to the scene in 2015.

Henderson is accused of working together with his wife Rhonda Carlson to kill his other wife Kristen Henderson and other family members. Prosecutors allege after the murders the house was set on fire.

During opening statements on Thursday, prosecutors asked the jury to not only sentence Henderson to death but to go beyond that.

In opening statements, Henderson’s Defense attorney Bruce Gardner said Henderson is simply not to blame. Instead, he alleges it was Carlson who planned and committed the crime.

“Rhonda Carlson this shadow in the mist you haven’t met yet,” Gardner said. “The person who planned it. The one who executed it, and the one with the motivation to do it.”

Another witness called to the stand was Kristen’s brother. He testified that cameras were installed in the house Kristen shared with her family. He also said originally Henderson lived there, but Christopher and Kristen were having troubles with their marriage. Kristen’s brother said Christopher moved out and the locks were changed.

During the case, Tim Gann, the chief trial attorney for the district attorney’s office said they’ve offered Carlson a deal. If she testifies truthfully in the Henderson case they will take the death penalty off the table for her. Instead, Gann said she will face life in prison without parole.

WAFF 48 caught up with the attorneys earlier this week. Gardner told us he believes the deal between the district attorney’s office and Carlson isn’t fair.

“It just seems fundamentally unfair in a situation like this where one gets to live and the other is facing possible death,” Gardner said. “I just have a problem with the fundamental fairness of that.”

“We have made a deal with the co-defendant for her truthful testimony,” Gann said. “We stand by that and I don’t apologize for it.”

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