Henderson death penalty trial opening likely pushed back to June 24

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Opening statements in the capital murder trial of Christopher Henderson are now expected to take place Thursday after the courts were closed much of Friday for the Juneteenth federal holiday.

Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer set out four days of questioning of jurors by the lawyers on both sides, but that schedule is now being adjusted.

Henderson is facing multiple capital murder counts for the deaths of five people in New Market in August 2015. The victims include Henderson’s estranged wife who was nine-months-pregnant, the unborn child, her 8-year-old son, her 1-year-old nephew and her mother.  

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Henderson.

The court’s plan was to interview a juror group a day, from Thursday to Tuesday, then pick a jury and begin with opening statements Wednesday, June 23.

But the Friday group in the jury pool gathered for a little while this morning and then was excused as the Madison County courts were closed for the holiday. Those jurors have been told to return Wednesday for additional questioning.

The would-be jurors have filled out a 40-page questionnaire, which the lawyers spent two days reviewing. The follow-up question sessions are aimed at taking a closer look at jurors’ views of issues like the death penalty and what constitutes “reasonable doubt.”

The jury that’s ultimately selected is expected to include 12 jurors and a larger-than usual total of six alternates. That larger pool is due to pandemic-related concerns, the expected length of the case and the fact that capital punishment is on the table — if Henderson is convicted.

The jury selection process is due to resume Monday morning.


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