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Jerry Paul HENDERSON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder for hire
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 1, 1984
Date of arrest: September 12, 1987
Date of birth: December 8, 1946
Victim profile: Jerry Haney, 33 (his sister-in-law’s husband)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Talladega County, Alabama, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Alabama on June 2, 2005
 
 

 
 

Summary:

On New Years Eve, Henderson and his wife threw a party.

He sneaked out of a bedroom window, went to the home of his wife's sister, lured her husband outside the house, and shot him dead with a shotgun.

He returned to the party with a ready-made alibi.

Three years later, his wife came forward and admitted to police that her sister, Judy Haney, had paid Henderson $3,000 to Murder Jerry Haney.

Upon arrest, Henderson confessed to the murder-for-hire plot. Both Henderson and Judy Haney were convicted and sentenced to death.

Haney had her sentenced reduced to Life Imprisonment in 1997.

Citations:

Henderson v. State, 583 So.2d 276 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990) (Direct Appeal).
Henderson v. State, 733 So.2d 484 (Ala.Crim.App. 1998)(PCR).

Final Meal:

Henderson ate the same meal all of the prisoners were served: Fish, coleslaw, baked beans and French fries.

Final Words:

"I just want to say that I am very sorry for the pain that I have caused. I pray the family of Jerry Haney can find it in their heart one day to forgive the pain I have caused them. I pray they find peace and love in the Lord Jesus Christ as I have, because that's the true peace. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I'm fixing to see him face to face."

ClarkProsecutor.org


Inmate: HENDERSON, JERRY PAUL
DOC#: 00Z486
Race: White
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: 12/08/1946
Location: Holman CF (Death Row)


Georgia man executed in Alabama for 1984 murder-for-hire

By Garry Mitchell - Al.com

Associated Press - June 2, 2005

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — With a plea for forgiveness, a Georgia man was executed Thursday for the 1984 shooting death of a Talladega man whose wife paid $3,000 for the killing.

Jerry Paul Henderson, 58, of Calhoun, Ga., whose own wife turned him in, was put to death at 6:24 p.m. by lethal injection at Holman prison for the shotgun slaying of textile worker Jerry Haney, 33, at his Talladega home.

Before his execution, prison chaplain Chris Summers knelt beside Henderson and held his left hand as the two prayed. Henderson said he was "very sorry for the pain I've caused" to the victim's family. "I pray the family of Jerry Haney can find it in their heart one day to forgive...I pray they find peace and love in the Lord Jesus Christ as I have, because that's the true peace. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I'm fixing to see him face to face," Henderson said.

He did not look toward Haney's family members, including two brothers and a nephew, in the witness room. But Henderson winked and gave a thumbs up sign to his two spiritual advisors seated in a separate witness room.

Henderson was convicted of luring Haney onto the front porch of the victim's home and shooting him three times, the last shot fired point-blank into his face. Haney's wife, the sister of Henderson's wife, had told them that Haney abused her and promised to pay all she could — $3,000, as it turned out — if they would end the abuse, according to court records.

Three years after the New Year's Day killing, Henderson's wife, Martha, went to authorities. Henderson, a maintenance mechanic with a seventh-grade education, confessed and was sentenced to death. Judy Haney was initially sentenced to death, but her sentence was reduced to life without parole. Martha Henderson was not charged.

Jerry Henderson, who did not ask Gov. Bob Riley for clemency, met with religious counselors Thursday, said Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett. Henderson's adult son visited him earlier in the week, but none of his relatives were present at the execution, Corbett said.

Haney's brother, Talladega Police Lt. Billy Haney, was among the victim's family members who witnessed the execution. "I'm there for the family and to see justice carried out as what was sentenced in the lower courts," the officer said in an interview. "I don't want people to think I'm in it for revenge. Dad used to say he'd never live to see the man executed. He died at 80 in 2000," said another brother, Daniel Haney, who also was present at the execution. He said the murder had tortured the family. The victim had seven sisters and three brothers.

The execution was the second in Alabama this year.


1984 killer-for-hire executed

By Carla Crowder - Birmingham News

Friday, June 03, 2005

ATMORE - Jerry Paul Henderson asked his victim's family for forgiveness one last time Thursday before the state of Alabama executed him by lethal injection for the 1984 murder of a Talladega man. "I just want to say that I am very sorry for the pain that I have caused," said Henderson, 58, a Georgia man who spent 17 years on Death Row. "I pray that the family of Jerry Haney can find it in their heart one day to forgive the pain I have caused them."

Henderson shot Haney, 33, three times with a shotgun, then collected $3,000 from Haney's wife, Judy Haney. Two of the victims' brothers, Talladega police Lt. Billy Haney and Jimmy Haney, silently witnessed the execution, as did a nephew, Blake Haney. They declined comment afterward.

Though he never looked their way, Henderson directed several more comments to the Haneys as he lay strapped to his deathbed. "I hope they find the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ that I have found, because that's the true peace."

Holman Prison Chaplain Chris Summers knelt by Henderson's side and held his hand while the two prayed together. Henderson was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later, at 6:24 p.m. He was the second person executed in Alabama this year.

Thursday afternoon, Summers gave Henderson communion. Ministers from Kairos, a prison ministry, stayed with him all day and described him as a joy to be with. "Jerry loved to talk," said Ben Sherrod. Henderson jokingly said that, for his last meal, he'd like to go to Red Lobster. Instead, about 3:25 p.m., he ate fish, coleslaw, baked beans and French fries, the same meal all of the prisoners were served.

On Tuesday, Henderson's 28-year-old son, Jason, visited. The last time they had seen each other, the son was 11.

As his execution date neared, Henderson did not fight his fate. He declined to seek clemency from Gov. Bob Riley. Death penalty opponents appealed to the governor but were told that the clemency request must come from the condemned.

Lawyer Justin Ravitz of Michigan had filed unsuccessful appeals on Henderson's behalf, contending Henderson's trial attorneys did a poor job of representing him, in part because they brought out little about his background in the penalty phase of the trial. Henderson was abandoned by his mother and grew up living with various relatives. When he was 18, his mother killed herself shortly before they were to be reunited.

Ravitz has said Henderson responded in anger when Haney's wife and children fled to his home, saying Haney had abused them. The crime was not a ruthless murder for hire, but a family tragedy, Ravitz contends. The Haney family has countered that Judy Haney had plenty of opportunities to get away, and the killing was not justified. She is now serving life without parole at Tutwiler Prison for Women.

Henderson was married to Judy Haney's sister, Martha, who helped plan the murder. For three years, the high-profile killing of a police officer's brother remained unsolved. Then Jerry and Martha Henderson parted company, and she turned him in and avoided prosecution. In Henderson's trial, Tonya Haney took the stand in her uncle's defense, asking the jury to spare the life of the man who killed her father.

Just before his execution Thursday evening, Henderson gave Sherrod and Kairos minister Tom Duley a thumbs up and a wink. "I just thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I'm fixing to see Him face to face," he said in his final statement.


State carries out Henderson execution

By Chis Norwood - Talladega Daily Home

June 3, 2005

At 6:24 p.m. Thursday, the state of Alabama executed Jerry Paul Henderson, 58, formerly of Calhoun, Ga., by means of lethal injection at Holman Prison in Atmore for a crime committed more than two decades ago. According to the Associated Press, Henderson’s last words reflected that he was "very sorry for the pain I’ve caused."

Henderson was convicted and sentenced to death for the New Year’s Day 1984 murder of his sister-in-law’s husband, Jerry Haney. Haney’s wife, Judy Haney, paid Henderson $3,000 for the murder. Judy Haney was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, but her sentence was later reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Former Talladega County District Attorney Robert Rumsey prosecuted Henderson, and characterized Haney’s murder as "almost perfect." The Hendersons threw a party that New Year’s Eve at their home in Georgia. Excusing himself from his guests, Henderson said he was not feeling well and went to lie down in a back bedroom. He then climbed out his bedroom window and drove to Haney’s residence in Talladega.

According to court documents, Henderson "lured Haney to his front porch and shot (him) with a shotgun." After knocking on the door, Henderson told Haney he was bringing his wife and children back from Georgia, but they had run out of gas. When Haney came out of the house, Henderson opened fire. The first shot struck Haney in the chest, but was not fatal. A second shot merely grazed his ear.

According to court documents, Haney made it to the back porch before collapsing and begging for his life. "Henderson responded to this plea for mercy by putting the shotgun a few inches from Haney’s face and firing a third time. This shot blew Haney’s lips and teeth off and went into his skull, ending (his life)," according to documents submitted by the state Attorney General’s Office requesting an execution date.

After taking $80 from Haney, Henderson returned home, climbed back into his home through his bedroom window, and rejoined his party guests. It would be more than three years before Haney’s murder was solved and Henderson was arrested.

In spite of the long investigation and the alibi created by the party guests, Rumsey said investigators had strong suspicions from the beginning. "After the killing, Henderson stopped at a restaurant in Oxford and called his wife and Judy Haney back in Georgia to let them know he had carried out the plan. He put money in the pay phone, but when the 3 minutes ran out, he didn’t have any more change. So they got the number of the pay phone and called him back."

The call showed up in the couple’s phone records. "So we knew that someone had made a long distance call to a pay phone within just a few minutes after the killing," Rumsey said. "Then, later on, we told Henderson we were coming to examine his shotgun to see if we could match it to the shooting. Of course, you can’t really do that with a shotgun, but apparently he didn’t know that." Shortly before investigators arrived in Georgia, Henderson said his shotgun had been stolen from his truck. "But the glass on the truck window was broken out, not in," Rumsey said. "That confirmed our suspicions." The shotgun was later tossed into a river, and has never been recovered.

Eventually, Henderson’s wife, Martha, confessed to her role in the plot, and agreed to wear a wire, which led to her husband’s arrest. According to court papers, Henderson confessed shortly after his arrest.

Jerry Haney’s brother, Billy Haney, is a lieutenant in the Talladega Police Department. He had just ended his shift on the night his brother was murdered, and was the first officer on the scene. Judy Haney had called him at home and said she was concerned because she could not reach her husband by phone.

Billy Haney attended Henderson’s execution, and was not available for comment Thursday night. When Henderson’s execution date was set in May, however, Billy Haney told The Daily Home "it took the justice system an awfully long time to come around, but that’s how it works. I still have every faith and confidence that the system works, but sometimes I wish it could be speeded up a little. I’ve lost both my parents and my sister since Jerry was killed. And (Henderson) got to live on this earth 21 years longer than my brother did. So there’s still some bitterness there."

Billy Haney and one of his surviving brothers attended the execution. "It’s not a revenge venture, it’s just for peace of mind, for closure. I’m there to represent my family, especially my sister and my parents. It’s a ritual to bring us all some peace." One of the victim’s nephews also witnessed the execution, according to the Associated Press.

Henderson stood trial in 1989, and was convicted of two counts of capital murder, being a murder for hire and murder during the course of a robbery. The jury voted 10-2 in favor of the death penalty over life in prison without possibility of parole. Then the appeals began.

The verdict and sentence were upheld in the state appellate courts. Henderson then filed a motion for collateral review in what is known as a Rule 32 hearing before the trial judge, in this case Jerry Fielding.

As the date for the hearing approached, Henderson found himself without an attorney. Fielding appointed Steve Giddens to represent him. Giddens is currently district attorney for Talladega County, but was in private practice at the time. After consulting with Giddens and being advised of rights by Fielding, Henderson signed a document waiving his right to the hearing. This incident was the basis of most of Henderson’s later appeals.

Justin Ravitz, a former judge from Michigan, represented Henderson during the last several years of federal appeals. Ravitz argued that Giddens’ brother, Rod Giddens, was a prosecutor when Henderson was tried, and that the Giddens brothers were sharing office space when Steve Giddens was appointed for the Rule 32 hearing. "For Fielding to appoint Steve Giddens when Rod Giddens prosecuted the case is absurd, and Steve Giddens’ testimony in federal court that he didn’t know anything about the case is truly absurd, especially since he admitted being friends with Billy Haney. Henderson didn’t even know why he was back in Talladega."

While Rod Giddens was an assistant district attorney while Henderson stood trial, Rumsey said the prosecutors actively involved in the case were himself and Julian King, currently Talladega County’s presiding circuit judge. "It’s also risible that Giddens would ask Henderson if he thought he had a fair trial. Giddens is the lawyer. Henderson has a seventh-grade education, you couldn’t expect him to understand complex Sixth Amendment issues. I find it shameful that the state of Alabama, the 11th Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court would all find that was a valid waiver. The Rule 32 hearing would have been a venue to argue mitigating circumstances that didn’t come out at trial, and that was trampled by lust for vengeance."

Ravitz argued further that it was "shameful" for Henderson to be put to death with the minimum possible jury vote when "those jurors truly heard precious little about the man they were sending to the gallows. None of them could have written a full page on the history of this person.

His trial counsel offered no mitigating circumstances for the jury to consider when they were deciding whether or not to execute a human being with no prior record of violence and a minimal criminal history."

Among other mitigating circumstances, Ravitz said Henderson was abandoned by his mother as an infant and sent to live with his grandmother, who died when he was 10 years old. "They didn’t know how he was brutalized by his aunt in Florida after that, or how he talked to his mother for the first time when he was 16 years old. They didn’t know his mother committed suicide after that, and that the only time he ever saw her, she was in a box. They didn’t know that Henderson shot himself in the chest at 25, and that he has a long, prominent scar," Ravitz said. "They were made aware of none of this in any significant way. They saw a vicious murder for hire, but that’s not really what this was. It was a brutal, unlawful murder, and he deserves to be punished. He knows that, and he is remorseful."

Rumsey said he was satisfied that justice was being done. "It is certainly sad, but this was gruesome, almost perfectly planned murder. It was solved thanks to excellent police work, and progressed through the state and federal systems just as it should. There is no issue as to his guilt."

Steve Giddens could not comment, since he had previously represented Henderson, but Assistant District Attorney Barry Matson said, "My heart goes out to the Haney family. Victims and their families live with the results of violent crimes their whole lives, and the Haneys will continue to live with what Henderson did. It’s not closure, I think that’s an overused word that should be retired. But I hope they do receive at least some sense of justice."


Clock ticking for convicted killer

Appeals exhausted, lawyer questions Talladega justice

By Carla Crowder - Birmingham News

Sunday, May 29, 2005

TALLADEGA - Talladega Police Lt. Billy Haney has waited 21 years for the man who killed his brother to die. Twenty-one years for peace of mind. Years in which their parents have died, leaving him to witness the execution of Jerry Paul Henderson scheduled for Thursday.

Henderson, 58, a Georgia maintenance technician, was convicted of shooting Jerry Haney to death with a shotgun in 1984 and collecting $3,000. Court records say Haney begged for his life, then Henderson fired the third and fatal blast. He was sentenced to death because murder-for-hire is a capital offense in Alabama.

Henderson's attorney in later stages of his appeals says this was not a heartless murder-for-hire, but a tangled family tragedy with failings on both sides and with Alabama's indigent defense system. Money changed hands, Justin Ravitz concedes, but it was not a key motivation.

Ravitz, a Michigan lawyer and former criminal court judge, said he presided over some "godawful cases. And I can say without hesitation, every week I sentenced someone more dangerous than Jerry Henderson."

The Haney family's wait has been so long, in part, because of unusual activity and relationships in Talladega County as the case has wound through court. Among those detailed in appeal petitions:

Steve Giddens, a lawyer appointed to represent Henderson at an appeal hearing, is the brother of Assistant District Attorney Rod Giddens, who prosecuted Henderson, and a long-time friend of Lt. Haney. While Steve Giddens represented him, Henderson, who has a seventh-grade education, waived his right to challenge the competency of his trial attorneys.

Henderson's sister-in-law and co-defendant, Judy Haney, was convicted and initially sentenced to death for hiring him to kill Jerry Haney, her husband. Her sentence was reduced to life without parole after it surfaced that her attorney was drunk during parts of her trial. The judge found Gould Blair in contempt of court one morning and sent him to jail to sober up. That, and her being the mother of young children, led to her resentencing, leaving the Haney family disappointed and Jerry Henderson the only one eligible for the death penalty.

"In my opinion, she should have been the first one executed," said Lt. Haney. "There's no doubt in my mind she plotted and planned the whole thing." But Haney does not complain about the long wait for an execution. He's devoted his life to the criminal justice system and believes it works. "I've been in law enforcement for 29 years now. I'm pro for the death penalty, but I've never had a feeling of actually wanting to watch an execution," Lt. Haney said in an interview at the Talladega Police Department, where he oversees officer training. "This is very personal in nature and I think it would give me some peace of mind."

His brother was a father of two and financially stable enough to have his house paid for when he was killed at age 33. "He was a hardworking, very ethical, moral person," Lt. Haney said. But, as revealed later in court, there was trouble in that house.

Judy Haney and her children testified in her trial that her husband had violent rampages that left her bruised and her daughter's elbow shattered, and that some nights sent them fleeing into the woods, according to court documents.

Also, Jerry Haney was having an affair. When Judy Haney found out, she emptied their savings account and fled to the Calhoun, Ga., home of her sister, Martha Henderson. "After Jerry (Haney) found out about the loss of funds, he threaten (sic)to kill her if the money was not returned," an investigator with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles wrote in a pre-sentence report. This occurred in late December 1983. Jerry Haney was murdered New Year's Day 1984.

Plot hatched in Georgia

In Georgia, Haney and her sister and brother-in-law worked out a plan for Jerry Henderson to feign illness during a party, then sneak out a window and drive to Talladega to kill Jerry Haney. People at the party would be his alibi. And because the Hendersons had some financial struggles, Judy agreed to give him money. It was three years later that law officers cracked the case.

"It was technically a murder-for-hire, but it was more family resolving a matter that should have been resolved through the legal system and was not," said Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit law firm in Atlanta that represents poor people on Death Row and handled Judy Haney's successful appeal. "He'd been running around on her. He'd been abusing her, abusing the children. It's not appropriate to take the law into your own hands (but) this was a great family tragedy, and usually they are punished with a less severe sentence than the death penalty."

Ravitz, Henderson's attorney, wrote in a 1999 appeal petition that the trial attorneys did not make that point to the jury: "If Mr. Henderson was provoked to act out of sympathy and concern for victims of abuse, and out of the hatred engendered for that which he did witness - rather than simply for money - the essential facts before the court are substantially different from that depicted by trial counsels' wholly inadequate effort and presentation."

But there is another side to that story, according to Lt. Haney, who was close with his brother during this time. "Theirs wasn't a Cinderella marriage by any means," he said. "They had their differences and disputes like all people do, but that's no way to handle things." Lt. Haney pointed out that Judy Haney and the children were safe with her family more than 100 miles away when the killing occurred.

Lt. Haney said his brother wanted to leave the family and start over and offered his wife "everything." So she could have gotten rid of him. "I'm not saying Jerry was a saint," Lt. Haney said.

Ineffective counsel

For Ravitz, one of the most troubling aspects of the case is that he believes Henderson had a strong appeal on claims of ineffective counsel, but the brother of the original prosecutor persuaded him to forfeit that claim. "We never even got to the `dance' so to speak. Alabama courts (and the 11th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court) shut Henderson out - and are allowing this execution to go forward - without ever even allowing for any measure of scrutiny as to the essence of his claims," Ravitz said.

Eventually, Ravitz raised numerous claims in state and federal courts that bolstered contentions Henderson's court-appointed trial attorneys had not adequately defended him. They never hired an investigator, and presented scant testimony about his reasons for killing Haney, Ravitz argued, including that Henderson had been abused and abandoned as a child and had strong empathy for his niece, Tonya. He also argued that Alabama pays indigent defense attorneys so little compared with other states that the attorneys did not have the resources to defend him. His two attorneys were paid $4,961. But it was too late.

Years earlier, Giddens had been brought in after another attorney, from Maryland, dropped out of Henderson's case. He met with Henderson for about an hour the day before the hearing on his ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The Maryland lawyer had raised some claims. But, after meeting with Giddens, Henderson waived them. Giddens told the judge, "He's well satisfied that his attorneys did everything they could for him."

Lawyer: No conflict

Henderson said in court he thought his trial lawyers "done the best they could." One lawyer apparently raised a lot of objections in court. He "was actually jumping up and down like a jumping bean," Henderson has said. Steve Giddens is now district attorney in Talladega County, which has more than 10 people on Death Row, the highest per capita in the state.

He said in an interview last week that he believed there was no conflict, and the federal courts have agreed. That his brother had helped secure the conviction did not sway his work on the Henderson appeal, he said. "I don't see what that's got to do with anything," he said. "Whoever raised that is dead wrong."

And because the courts do not guarantee attorneys to Death Row defendants in all stages of appeal, the conflict issue was moot. "The lawyer basically can have complete malpractice, and there's no remedy for it because the court says you're not entitled to anybody, anyway," Southern Center for Human Rights' Bright said. Now the guaranteed appeals are exhausted, though anti-death penalty advocates are appealing to Gov. Bob Riley for clemency.

At his sentencing in 1988, Henderson confessed to killing Haney, to being tormented by what he's done, and to finding a modicum of solace only in prayer and God. He didn't beg for his life. "My life belongs to God. It don't belong to anyone else," he said. "But I want you to understand that it's not right for anybody to take anybody's life. I don't care what the circumstances are. You know, the Lord said, 'Thou shalt not kill.'" He didn't say you can do it through a court and it's all right."


ProDeathPenalty.com

The Alabama Supreme Court has set a June 2 execution date for Jerry Paul Henderson, convicted in a 1984 murder-for-hire killing in Talladega. A court spokesman announced Tuesday that Henderson had been given a date to be executed by lethal injection at Holman prison near Atmore.

Henderson, now 58, was convicted of capital murder in the 1984 shooting death of his sister-in-law's husband, Jerry Haney, 33. According to court records, after a fight with her husband Judy Haney, told her sister, Martha Henderson, and the sister's husband, Jerry Paul Henderson, that she would give them all the money she had if they would make sure Jerry Haney wouldn't bother her anymore.

Henderson was accused of shooting Jerry Haney to death on Jan. 1. He and Judy Haney were arrested more than three years later when Martha Henderson agreed to wear a wire and get her husband to talk about the murder.

Judy Haney was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, but her sentence was reduced in 1997 to life in prison without parole under an agreement with state prosecutors and the family of the victim. Her brother-in-law remained on death row, where his lengthy appeals have included claims of ineffectiveness of counsel and mitigating circumstances not being brought out at his trial.

UPDATE: At 6:24 p.m. Thursday, the state of Alabama executed Jerry Paul Henderson, 58, formerly of Calhoun, Ga., by means of lethal injection at Holman Prison in Atmore for a crime committed more than two decades ago. According to the Associated Press, Henderson’s last words reflected that he was "very sorry for the pain I’ve caused."

Henderson was convicted and sentenced to death for the New Year’s Day 1984 murder of his sister-in-law’s husband, Jerry Haney. Haney’s wife, Judy Haney, paid Henderson $3,000 for the murder. Judy Haney was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, but her sentence was later reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Former Talladega County District Attorney Robert Rumsey prosecuted Henderson, and characterized Haney’s murder as "almost perfect."

The Hendersons threw a party that New Year’s Eve at their home in Georgia. Excusing himself from his guests, Henderson said he was not feeling well and went to lie down in a back bedroom. He then climbed out his bedroom window and drove to Haney’s residence in Talladega.

According to court documents, Henderson "lured Haney to his front porch and shot (him) with a shotgun." After knocking on the door, Henderson told Haney he was bringing his wife and children back from Georgia, but they had run out of gas. When Haney came out of the house, Henderson opened fire.

The first shot struck Haney in the chest, but was not fatal. A second shot merely grazed his ear. According to court documents, Haney made it to the back porch before collapsing and begging for his life. "Henderson responded to this plea for mercy by putting the shotgun a few inches from Haney’s face and firing a third time. This shot blew Haney’s lips and teeth off and went into his skull, ending his life," according to documents submitted by the state Attorney General’s Office requesting an execution date.

After taking $80 from Haney, Henderson returned home, climbed back into his home through his bedroom window, and rejoined his party guests. It would be more than three years before Haney’s murder was solved and Henderson was arrested.

In spite of the long investigation and the alibi created by the party guests, Rumsey said investigators had strong suspicions from the beginning. "After the killing, Henderson stopped at a restaurant in Oxford and called his wife and Judy Haney back in Georgia to let them know he had carried out the plan.

He put money in the pay phone, but when the 3 minutes ran out, he didn’t have any more change. So they got the number of the pay phone and called him back." The call showed up in the couple’s phone records.

"So we knew that someone had made a long distance call to a pay phone within just a few minutes after the killing," Rumsey said. "Then, later on, we told Henderson we were coming to examine his shotgun to see if we could match it to the shooting. Of course, you can’t really do that with a shotgun, but apparently he didn’t know that."

Shortly before investigators arrived in Georgia, Henderson said his shotgun had been stolen from his truck. "But the glass on the truck window was broken out, not in," Rumsey said. "That confirmed our suspicions." The shotgun was later tossed into a river, and has never been recovered.

Eventually, Henderson’s wife, Martha, confessed to her role in the plot, and agreed to wear a wire, which led to her husband’s arrest. According to court papers, Henderson confessed shortly after his arrest. Jerry Haney’s brother, Billy Haney, is a lieutenant in the Talladega Police Department.

He had just ended his shift on the night his brother was murdered, and was the first officer on the scene. Judy Haney had called him at home and said she was concerned because she could not reach her husband by phone.

Billy Haney attended Henderson’s execution, and was not available for comment Thursday night. When Henderson’s execution date was set in May, however, Billy Haney told The Daily Home "it took the justice system an awfully long time to come around, but that’s how it works. I still have every faith and confidence that the system works, but sometimes I wish it could be speeded up a little. I’ve lost both my parents and my sister since Jerry was killed. And Henderson got to live on this earth 21 years longer than my brother did. So there’s still some bitterness there."

Billy Haney and one of his surviving brothers attended the execution. "It’s not a revenge venture, it’s just for peace of mind, for closure. I’m there to represent my family, especially my sister and my parents. It’s a ritual to bring us all some peace."

One of the victim’s nephews also witnessed the execution, according to the Associated Press. Henderson stood trial in 1989, and was convicted of two counts of capital murder, being a murder for hire and murder during the course of a robbery. Rumsey said he was satisfied that justice was being done. "It is certainly sad, but this was gruesome, almost perfectly planned murder. It was solved thanks to excellent police work, and progressed through the state and federal systems just as it should. There is no issue as to his guilt." Assistant District Attorney Barry Matson said, "My heart goes out to the Haney family. Victims and their families live with the results of violent crimes their whole lives, and the Haneys will continue to live with what Henderson did. It’s not closure, I think that’s an overused word that should be retired. But I hope they do receive at least some sense of justice."


National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Jerry Paul Henderson - Alabama - June 2, 2005 6 PM CST

On June 2, 2005, the state of Alabama is scheduled to execute Jerry Paul Henderson, a 58-year-old white man, via lethal injection for the January 1984 murder of Jerry Wayne Haney in Talladega County.

Henderson killed Jerry Haney, his brother-in-law, on Jan. 1, 1984, in a murder-for-hire scheme orchestrated by Jerry Haney’s wife, Judy. In May 1988, Henderson was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Judy is currently serving a life term of imprisonment without the possibility of parole for her involvement in her husband’s death.

The murder-for-hire scheme was apparently hatched after Judy and her children, Tonya and Gary, came to stay with Henderson and his wife, Judy’s sister, in December 1983. Judy and the children fled to the Henderson’s home in an effort to escape Jerry Haney’s aggressive personality and abusive behavior. Evidence and testimony indicates that Jerry Haney possessed an “uncontrollable temper.” That temper often manifested itself in the forms of physical and verbal abuse.

Speaking of the December 1983 visit by Judy and her children, Henderson stated, “Judy mentioned that Jerry was coming after them [and] Tonya went into hysterics, saying that she didn’t want her daddy to come get her […] I could see terror in her eyes. Excuse me. I’ve never mistreated or hurt [a] child. I don’t believe—I become very angry when somebody does. I’m sorry, but it’s just in me. I can’t stand it, I just become over angry and I just couldn’t control myself.”

A pre-trial psychological evaluation of Henderson demonstrated that his inability to “control himself” was a result of a troubled upbringing. Henderson was shipped around to various relatives throughout his childhood, never feeling as though he was truly loved by anyone—with the exception of his grandmother. Sadly, she passed away when Henderson was just 10-years-old. A psychologist testified at trial that this experience of a nomadic childhood, marked by feelings of dejection, produced in Henderson a “feeling to protect children.”

Henderson has argued that his sentence was largely a product of ineffective assistance of counsel—claiming that his trial counsel put on virtually no defense during the trial’s guilt/innocence phase and introduced only a minimal amount of mitigating evidence at sentencing. There may be some merit to Henderson’s claim that his trial counsel performed deficiently. After all, it is difficult to fathom Henderson receiving zealous representation from a lead counsel who, at the trial’s plea proceedings, asked the prosecution, “Do you think we will be to the sentencing phase by Thursday?”

Unfortunately, Henderson’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was procedurally barred after he waived his right to a petition that would have allowed him to preserve the claim. Henderson contends that this waiver was not done knowingly, as he did not fully understand the petition. Instead, he claims that the waiver was done on the suggestion of the attorney that was representing him at the time, whom he had met for the first time only one day prior.

If this is indeed true, it is very troubling, especially since this attorney possessed strong conflicts of interest—conflicts he failed to disclose to Henderson prior to representing him. Not only was the attorney’s brother one of the prosecutors in Henderson’s trial, but he possessed a strong friendship with Jerry Haney’s brother.

These conflicts of interest, coupled with comments made by the attorney since then, call into serious question whether he truly had Henderson’s best interests at heart while representing him. Please contact Gov. Bob Riley and request that he halt the state of Alabama's planned execution of Jerry Paul Henderson.


Henderson v. State, 583 So.2d 276 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990) (Direct Appeal).

Defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court, Talladega County, Jerry Fielding, J., of capital murder, and was sentenced to death by electrocution, and he appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals, Taylor, P.J., held that: (1) defendant was not entitled to change of venue; (2) failure to “life-qualify” prospective jurors was not plain error; (3) brother of victim was properly seated at prosecutor's counsel table and introduced to jury; (4) defendant was not entitled to present evidence of victim's violent behavior toward third party; (5) jury was properly instructed on aggravating circumstances; and (6) claimed instances of prosecutorial misconduct did not warrant reversal. Affirmed. Bowen, J., concurred in result, and concurred and dissented in denial of applications for rehearing. Judgment affirmed,

TAYLOR, Presiding Judge.

The appellant, Jerry Paul Henderson, was convicted of the murder of Jerry Wayne Haney, a capital offense as defined by §§ 13A-5-40(a)(2). Following a sentencing hearing, the jury recommended that appellant be sentenced to death. The trial court, after complying with § 13A-5-47, Code of Alabama 1975, sentenced the appellant to death by electrocution.

The evidence tended to show that late in December 1983, Judy Haney and her children fled their home in Talladega County, Alabama (allegedly to escape the abusive environment that her husband, Jerry Haney, had created). Mrs. Haney and her children went to stay at the home of Jerry and Martha Henderson in Calhoun, Georgia. Martha Henderson and Judy Haney are sisters.

Shortly after Mrs. Haney's arrival in Georgia, she and the appellant began discussing a plan pursuant to which Mrs. Haney would pay the appellant $3,000 in exchange for the murder of her husband. The appellant agreed to the proposed scheme. It was decided that Mr. Haney would be murdered on January 1, 1984.

On New Year's Day, the appellant went to the home of Michael Wayne Wright, an old friend and hunting partner. The appellant asked Mr. Wright if he had any shotgun shells he could give the appellant. Mr. Wright replied that he did not, but that his friend Robert Lewis probably did. They went to the home of Mr. Lewis, and his wife Wanda gave them the requested shotgun shells.

Later that night, the appellant and his wife were entertaining friends. The appellant complained of having the flu and retired to his bedroom. Once there, he turned out the light and let himself out of the window. He then got into his pickup truck and drove to Alabama.

Following Mrs. Haney's directions, the appellant parked his truck in a wooded area adjacent to the Haney home. The appellant then walked through the woods and up to the front door of the house. He put his loaded shotgun down on the porch and knocked on the door. Mr. Haney, who was in bed, heard the knocking and went to the door. The appellant told Mr. Haney that he had brought Mrs. Haney and the children back to Alabama, but that the truck had run out of gas and they were sitting on the side of the road. Mr. Haney agreed to help the appellant get some gas.

Mr. Haney changed his clothes and came outside, locking the front door behind him. At this time, the appellant fired the first shot at his victim, hitting him in the chest. The blast knocked Mr. Haney to the ground and while he was on the ground, *281 the appellant shot him again, this time grazing his ear. After this shot, the victim got to his feet and ran around to the back of his house, collapsing on the back porch steps and begging for his life. The appellant placed the shotgun on Mr. Haney's bottom lip and fired the last shot.

The appellant then rolled the victim onto his stomach and took his wallet out of his back pocket. On the way back to his pickup truck, he broke the light on the front porch. At approximately 11:00 p.m., the appellant stopped in Oxford, Alabama and called his wife and Mrs. Haney from a Waffle House restaurant to tell them that Mr. Haney was dead.

When the appellant arrived back home, he took the money, approximately $100, out of the wallet and Mrs. Haney took the victim's Social Security card. Mrs. Haney paid the appellant about $30 for his expenses on the trip and kept the remainder of the cash. The wallet was later destroyed.

The shotgun was thrown into the river and was never recovered. On January 2, 1984, Mrs. Haney contacted Lieutenant Billy Haney of the Talladega Police Department, the brother of Jerry Haney, the victim. Mrs. Haney requested that Lieutenant Haney go check on her husband because she had been trying to call him, but had been unable to get an answer. Lieutenant Haney went to the residence, where he discovered the body of his brother.

Jerry Wayne Haney's corpse was taken to the Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy. He had one shotgun wound to his left lower arm which penetrated the arm and entered his left chest. There was also a wound which grazed the victim's left ear. Finally, there was one shotgun wound to Haney's mouth which caused the mouth to be torn at the corners. This wound fractured almost every bone in the victim's skull, fractured the first two cervical vertebrae, and drove a tooth into Haney's spinal cord. It was this gunshot wound to the mouth that killed Jerry Haney.

When the investigation of the murder of Jerry Haney officially commenced, Jerry Henderson was the key suspect. On January 30, 1984, he reported to the police that his pickup truck had been broken into and his shotgun had been stolen. However, the circumstances surrounding the alleged theft were very suspicious. For the next three years, the authorities searched for clues in the murder case of Jerry Wayne Haney. Finally, in the fall of 1987, Martha Henderson agreed to turn State's evidence.

On September 9, 1987, law enforcement officials placed a “nagra unit” in the back seat of Mrs. Henderson's car to tape record conversations between her and her husband, the appellant. That night, Mr. and Mrs. Henderson got together and talked about the murder while sitting in Mrs. Henderson's car. The police got every word on tape.

On September 12, 1987, the appellant was arrested in Rome, Georgia, for the capital murder of Jerry Wayne Haney. Very early the next morning, the appellant confessed to the murder at the Floyd County jail in Georgia, and his confession was tape recorded.

* * *

The appellant next challenges the validity of the sentencing phase of his trial. The appellant argues that the jury was incorrectly instructed on several aggravating circumstances. Specifically, he argues that the jury instructions concerning the aggravating circumstances of murder for pecuniary gain and murder during the course of a robbery, “shifted the burden of proof to him and made his death sentence mandatory.” Section 13A-5-49, Code of Alabama 1975, lists aggravating circumstances, the following of which are pertinent to the instant case,

“(4) The capital offense was committed while the defendant was engaged or was an accomplice in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing, or attempting to commit, rape, robbery, burglary or kidnapping; “····
“(6) The capital offense was committed for pecuniary gain;
“····
“(8) The capital offense was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel compared to other capital offenses.”

Section 13A-5-50 states that “[t]he fact that a particular capital offense as defined in § 13A-5-40(a) necessarily includes one or more aggravating circumstances as specified in § 13A-5-49 shall not be construed to preclude the finding and consideration of that relevant circumstances or circumstances in determining sentence.” The appellant was indicted under two counts. The first count charged the appellant with murder for hire. The second count charged that the murder occurred during the theft of $80. The two counts are also considered aggravating circumstances as provided by § 13A-5-49.

* * *

Finally, we have searched the entire record for any plain error or defect which might have adversely affected the appellant's substantial rights and have found none. Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P. The appellant received a fair and impartial trial. Therefore, his conviction for this capital offense and his sentence of death are due to be, and they are hereby, affirmed. AFFIRMED.


Henderson v. State, 733 So.2d 484 (Ala.Crim.App. 1998)(PCR)

Defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court, Talladega County, No. CC-87-558, Jerry L. Fielding, J., of capital murder, and was sentenced to death by electrocution, and he appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals, 583 So.2d 276, Taylor, P.J., affirmed. On petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court, 583 So.2d 305, Steagall, J., affirmed. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. Defense counsel filed petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, but defendant moved to withdraw petition. The Circuit Court, No. CV-93-369, Jerry L. Fielding, J., dismissed petition, and defendant appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals, Patterson, Retired Appellate Judge, held that defendant possessed requisite mental competence to dismiss his petition and he did so voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. Affirmed; application for rehearing overruled.

PATTERSON, Retired Appellate Judge.

In 1988, the appellant, Jerry Paul Henderson, was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death. We affirmed. Henderson v. State, 583 So.2d 276 (Ala.Crim.App.1990) .The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed our judgment, Ex parte Henderson, 583 So.2d 305 (Ala.1991), and the United States Supreme Court denied the appellant's petition for certiorari review. Henderson v. Alabama, 503 U.S. 908, 112 S.Ct. 1268, 117 L.Ed.2d 496 (1992).

On October 13, 1993, the appellant, through retained counsel, filed a post-conviction petition pursuant to Ala.R.Crim.P. 32, alleging ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, as well as numerous other issues; these other issues were precluded from review because they either were raised at trial and/or on appeal and were decided adversely to the appellant, or could have been raised and were not. It appears from the record that the appellant's counsel filed the Rule 32 petition without consulting with the appellant.

Before and after the scheduled hearing on the merits of the petition, the appellant's counsel were permitted to withdraw from the case, and the circuit court continued the hearing to allow the appellant time to find new counsel. Because the appellant was unable to find new counsel, the circuit court appointed counsel to represent him. At the hearing on the Rule 32 petition, held on April 22, 1997, the appellant, through appointed counsel, moved for dismissal of his petition.

* * *

We conclude, after reviewing the record, that the circuit court was correct in finding that the appellant possessed the requisite mental competence to dismiss his petition and that he did so voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. For the above reasons, the circuit court's judgment granting the appellant's motion and dismissing the petition is due to be, and it is hereby, affirmed. The foregoing opinion was prepared by Retired Appellate Judge John Patterson while serving on active duty status as a judge of this court under the provisions of § 12-18-10(e), Ala.Code 1975. AFFIRMED.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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