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What comes next if jury finds Christopher Henderson guilty of capital murder

Jurors deliberated for seven hours Wednesday and there is no timeline of when the verdict will be in
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 8:10 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Jury deliberations will go on for a third day, starting Thursday, in the Christopher Henderson murder trial. Henderson is accused of brutally murdering his pregnant wife and three more of her family members six years ago.

Over seven hours of deliberation took place Wednesday and there’s no timeline of when the verdict will be in. Because of how many victims there were and the nature of the crime, the jury has to discuss and agree on fifteen capital murder charges.

Christopher Henderson is facing 15 charges of capital murder, but the jury only has to agree he’s guilty on one of those to enter a guilty verdict.

If that’s the case, the penalty phase will begin. This is standard for all capital murder cases.

“It’s like a mini-trial. We will present some more evidence of aggravating factors, they’re statutory. They will present mitigating evidence, things of his past, whatever it is they want to do,” Tim Gann said.

The chief trial attorney for the District Attorney’s office, Tim Gann says aggravating factors are circumstances that increase the seriousness of the crime. While mitigating factors are the opposite.

“The jury’s issue at that point is to weigh them, if the aggravators outweigh the mitigators then it’s death. If the mitigators outweigh the aggravators then it’s life without parole.”

After the prosecution and defense present these factors, the jury would then deliberate again to decide which punishment is appropriate.

Since these murders happened in 2015, before Governor Ivey signed a bill charging juries to make the ultimate decision on the punishment for a capital murder conviction, it will be up to Judge Chris Comer to decide.

“The judicial override in the case, so he has the final call. But the jury makes the recommendation,” Gann explained.

Gann says there have only been two capital murder cases that ended with the death penalty in Madison County in the last 13 years.

“There’s a lot of capital cases here in Madison county. The only time we seek the death penalty is if something is very, very serious. And there’s nothing more serious than the case we’re dealing with right now,” Gann said.

If the jury does not reach a verdict by the end of the day Friday, we’re told the plan is to take the holiday weekend off and pick back up on Tuesday.

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