Man charged with killing 5 people in New Market gets June 2020 trial date

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A Huntsville man charged with killing five people, including an unborn child, in August 2015, has been given a June 2020 trial date.

Christopher Matthew Henderson, 44, will be tried separately from his co-defendant in the case, Rhonda Carlson, one of two women he was married to at the time of the killings.

Henderson was also married to Kristen Henderson, one of the victims. Kristen Henderson was nine months pregnant when she was killed. Henderson, her unborn child, her mother Jean Smallwood, her 8-year-old son Clayton Chambers and her 1-year-old nephew Eli Sokolowski, all died at Smallwood’s home in New Market. Investigators said the victims were either shot or stabbed and that Christopher Henderson and Carlson set the house ablaze before they fled the scene.

Kristen Henderson wasn’t aware that he was married to Carlson until about a week before her death, when she sought a restraining order against him.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both defendants.

Madison County Assistant District Attorney Shauna Barnett is prosecuting the case. She said the magnitude of the case, has led to a deliberate approach to the trial date.

“We’ve got a good chunk of a family killed in this case, we’ve got 5 victims in this case, that’s just not seen,” Barnett told WHNT News 19. “It’s not seen, thank goodness anywhere, it’s certainly not seen in Madison County. This is rare. It’s a big deal.”

Christopher Henderson is represented by attorneys Bruce Gardner and Robin Wolfe.

Barnett and Tim Gann, chief trial attorney for the DA’s office, are prosecuting the case.

The parties told the court Friday they expect the trial will last more than two weeks.

“The magnitude of this case is just bigger quite frankly than pretty much anything Madison County has seen,” Barnett said. “We want to allow for proper handling of everything, we want to give the jurors a heads up they might be here for a while. So, we’re going to do this right. Like judge said, ‘do it once and do it right.'”

Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer is hearing the case.

Carlson is due in court next month and her trial date could be set at that point.

Updated at 1:38 p.m. to correct attorney identification

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