Alabama man convicted of 5 murders from 2015 sentenced to death

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — An Alabama man convicted of killing his estranged wife, her unborn child and three other family members in 2015 was sentenced to death on Thursday.

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Christopher Henderson, 46, of Huntsville, was convicted of 15 counts of capital murder in July, WHNT reported. A jury voted 11-1 in July to recommend the death penalty, according to the television station.

Kristin Smallwood Henderson, 35, was nine months pregnant with Christopher Henderson’s child when she was killed on Aug. 4, 2015, AL.com reported. Her unborn child was also killed, along with her son, Clayton Daniel Chambers, 8; her mother, Jean Smallwood, 67; and her 1-year-old nephew, Eli Sokolowski, according to the website.

Their bodies were found inside a New Market home engulfed in flames when authorities arrived, according to AL.com. The slayings came less than a week after Kristen Smallwood Henderson filed for a court order to keep Christopher Henderson away from the residence, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s unspeakable what he did in this case, and he absolutely deserves what’s coming,” Tim Gann, of the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, told WAFF.

Bruce Gardner, the attorney who defended Christopher Henderson, addressed the court before the sentencing and urged life imprisonment.

“Life is always the better choice,” Gardner told the court. “We ask that you impose life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

Rhonda Carlson, Christopher Henderson’s first wife, whom he never divorced before marrying Kristen Smallwood, was arrested with Henderson and charged with capital murder, according to WHNT.

Carlson admitted to planning the killings but denied participating in the slayings, according to the AP. She took a plea deal to avoid a possible death sentence, according to AL.com. Her hearing is set for Oct. 27.

“Rhonda was very much a part of this from start to finish,” Gann told WAFF. “She was a part of the planning. She was a part of the operation. But there is no blood on Rhonda’s hands. She did not take a knife and cut a baby out of the womb. That’s not who she is. She’s going to do life without. It’s death by prison for her.”

Christopher Henderson addressed the courtroom and expressed his “deepest apologies” to the family.

“This is an event that should’ve never happened,” he told the court. “I’d also like to apologize to my mom and my daughter. I had papers written as I laid in bed with COVID for a month. This is something I had to say from the heart.”


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