12:48 PM PDT, July 1, 2021
Warning: the testimonies reported below are graphic in detail.
A jury in Alabama is deliberating the fate of bigamist charged with the gruesome 2015 murders of his pregnant wife, her mother and two children.
The trial of Christopher Henderson, 46, began this week in Madison County. Prosecutors say the man conspired with his first wife to murder his second wife and four members of her family.
Kristin Smallwood Henderson was nine months pregnant with Henderson’s child at the time of the slayings. Her 8-year-old son, Clayton Chambers, her mother, Jean Smallwood, and her 1-year-old nephew, Eli Sokolowski, were also killed.
Their home near Huntsville was on fire when first responders arrived, authorities said. A medical examiner testified this week that some of the victims were alive when gasoline was poured throughout the house and then set ablaze.
Christopher Henderson was still legally married to Rhonda Carlson when he married Kristin Smallwood Henderson, authorities said. Prosecutors said Christopher Henderson and Carlson plotted to kill his second wife and her family, and surveillance video captured the two entering the family’s home and later leaving before it burst into flames.
Carlson has accepted a plea deal in exchange for not facing the death penalty, prosecutors said. She testified for the state this week. Christopher Henderson’s defense lawyers claim she masterminded the killings.
Under the plea deal, Carlson will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Dr. Steven Dunton with the Alabama Department of Forensic Services provided grim details of the five autopsy reports, according to WHNT-TV. Kristin Henderson had been shot in the neck and stabbed several times, he said. Her full-term fetus had been cut from her body and sustained multiple sharp force injuries.
Kristin’s mother was shot several times and stabbed in the eyes. Eight-year-old Clayton was stabbed and was still conscious when the blaze started, the coroner said. One-year-old Eli was also stabbed many times, but his cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the autopsies.
Testifying for the prosecution, Carlson said she and Christopher Henderson were never divorced. They initially discussed keeping Kristin’s baby, but Carlson decided she did not want to be a mother again. Christopher Henderson said a “baby would just end up whining like her mom,” and he didn’t want it, Carlson said.
If convicted, Henderson could face the death penalty.