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Jury in Henderson trial begin deliberations on Wednesday

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 7:13 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE: Minutes after the judge cleared the courtroom and jury deliberations began, a recess was announced until 9 a.m. Wednesday in the trial against Christopher Henderson.

Tuesday was the fourth day in the trial against Christopher Henderson, the man accused of killing his pregnant wife, three of her family members and then setting her house on fire with everyone inside.

Tuesday afternoon, the defense rested the case and the judge read all 15 offenses against Henderson. The judge says this is the longest charge he has ever read as it took him two hours to go through.

Deliberations will resume Wednesday morning.

Update as of 11:20 a.m.: The judge started Tuesday’s court proceedings asking the defense to call its first witness. Instead, the defense announced it rested its case. The defense team did so without calling any witnesses to the stand.

Throughout the trial, the defense counsel focused cross-examination on one witness. That’s the alleged co-conspirator in this case Rhonda Carlson, who is charged with helping Henderson commit the alleged crime. A few other witnesses received brief cross-examinations.

After the defense rested, attorneys went into a charge conference. After that, closing arguments started.

The prosecution started closings by going over a synopsis of the case and the charges Henderson is facing. The prosecutors talked about the autopsy evidence that was brought in through testimony. Additionally, the team talked about some of the searches that were talked about during testimony, such as allegedly researching a gun.

Prosecutors allege the murders Henderson is accused of are not something that happened on a whim, but rather thought out and planned.

Defense attorneys allege in closing arguments that the truth is out more so now than at the beginning of the trial. The defense said Carlson was the one having hallucinations and seeing things that aren’t real. They say it was chilling for Carlson to say Kristen made her homeless so now she wants Kristen, the alleged victim to be homeless and childless too.

Defense attorney Bruce Gardner talked about Carlson saying, “I don’t remember, I was in a fog.”

In closing arguments, Gardner said Carlson had years to meet with her lawyers to look over everything the state had, she molded her story, he said.

UPDATE (9:25 a.m.): According to WAFF’s Tiffany Thompson, the defense has rested its case.

On Tuesday, we can expect more court proceedings including the beginning of the defense’s case in the Christopher Henderson trial. Henderson is accused of working together with his wife Rhonda Carlson to kill his other wife Kristen and her family. After the alleged murders, authorities report the house was set on fire.

On Monday, Defense Attorney Bruce Gardner cross-examined Carlson. Throughout the trial, the Defense Team has alleged Carlson is the one who planned and carried out the crime. The cross-examination started with a video of Carlson’s interrogation after the alleged crime. On the stand, Carlson admits to Gardner that she was not always truthful with investigators.

In the interrogation video, you can hear an investigator asking Carlson if she went into the house several times. Throughout the interrogation, her answer to that appears to change. In the video, Carlson denied participating in the alleged murders and she said she has no idea what happened inside the house. She said she helped plan the murders in advance, but, she maintained she did not carry out the murders., She testified she just drove Henderson to the house and brought a gas can inside.

Gardner peppered her with some tough questions.

Gardner: You said you did not know who was in the house, that’s a lie too isn’t it?

Carlson: Yes sir

Garner: You knew Mrs. Smallwood, Kristen, Clayton, 14-month-old were in house?

Carlson: Yes sir

Gardner: Did you know or do you know now how the 14-month-old died?

Carlson: Yes sir, smoke inhalation

Gardner: No gas can, that child might have lived, right?

Carlson: Yes sir

Gardner: Essentially you killed that child, didn’t you?

Carlson: Yes sir

During early court proceedings, WAFF 48 caught up with attorneys on both sides of the case. Prosecuting attorneys say details in this case are unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

”I think it absolutely speaks to what this case is all about. What happened in this case and just the difficulty for what the jurors will have to see in this case I think it speaks volumes about it,” Tim Gann, the Chief Trial Attorney for the District Attorney’s office said.

“I take my obligation to represent him very seriously,” said Gardner. “We will do it very zealously and vigorously as I said.”

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