Man charged in fire deaths could be convicted under Kelley's Law

Published: Aug. 7, 2015 at 1:41 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2015 at 2:13 AM CDT
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(WAFF) - Investigators are working to find the answers to many questions about a deadly house fire.

Four people were killed including two children. One of the victims was Kristen Henderson who was 9-months pregnant.

Christopher Henderson and Rhonda Carlson are charged with their murders. Court documents show that Kristen and Christopher were in the middle of a divorce and she had filed a restraining order against him.

Just last year, Kelley's Law went into effect.  It made it a capital crime to kill someone while a protection order is in place. It's named after an Arab woman, Kelley Rutledge Johnston, who was murdered by her husband.

Kelley was killed in 2000 and it took 14 years to pass Kelley's Law. In fact, it became law just last summer.

Here's what it means for the house fire case: If Christopher Henderson, who is charged with capital murder, is found guilty in the fire deaths, he faces the death penalty or life in jail without the possibility of parole.

This is important because Rutledge-Johnston was beaten and murdered by her husband, David Johnston. Johnson committed this crime while he had a protective order out against him. He's in jail, but it's been 15 years and he is now eligible for parole.

Kelley's father says getting Kelley's law passed was an important step in protecting abuse victims, but he says more can be done.

"When a protective order is issued, then the people who it is against should be well informed of what the penalties are for it. When a case falls under that law, it needs to be used and it needs to be used to the full extent of it," said Dan Rutledge.

Kelley's husband will plead his case to a parole board, in Montgomery, on August 19th.

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