MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – A woman charged in connection to the 2015 deaths of five people plans to enter a plea in court Wednesday. Rhonda Carlson, alongside her husband Christopher Henderson, was arrested and charged with capital murder in the deaths of a family in New Market.
Among the victims, Henderson’s pregnant wife, who he was not legally married to because he never divorced Carlson.
“Someone like her, was in this thing all the way up to her eyeballs, she’s going to be allowed to live. Maybe there are degrees there, but the law says, if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound.”
That’s what defense attorney Bruce Gardner told News 19 on October 14 after his client Christopher Henderson was sentenced to death for fifteen counts of capital murder. Crimes Gardner said Rhonda Carlson is just as guilty.
Carlson reached a plea agreement with the Madison County District Attorneys Office prior to Henderson’s trial. In exchange for testifying against Henderson, Carlson would avoid the death penalty. Instead of serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The court is set to hear her guilty plea Wednesday.
Carlson’s attorney Erin Atkins said her client has admitted wrongdoing.
“She certainly acknowledges and accepts responsibility for her portion and the crime, which is why we’ve agreed to a plea,” she said. “She acknowledges that she was involved, she acknowledges that she had a part to play and that she can be held legally responsible for the deaths based on Alabama law.”
As for the criticism of Carlson’s sentence, Atkins said life without parole is exactly what it says.
“That means that there are no loopholes, there’s no possibility for her to get out,” she said. “A lot of people think life without parole means there might be a chance that they could still get out, not life without parole, not in Alabama. So she is going to be in prison for the rest of her life, she will never see the light of day. That is because she had a substantial part in the events. We believe that she just wasn’t as culpable as he was. We believe that he kind of led or masterminded the event.”
Carlson testified during Henderson’s trial that by the time she entered the house in New Market, Henderson had already attacked all the victims. Her attorney told News 19 since the plea agreement was reached with the state, Carlson will waive her rights to a trial in court Wednesday.
News 19 also told Carlson will not have a separate sentencing hearing.