Madison Co. man charged with 7 counts of capital murder faces ju - FOX10 News | WALA

Madison Co. man charged with 7 counts of capital murder faces judge

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Christopher Henderson in court on Tuesday. (Source: WAFF Staff) Christopher Henderson in court on Tuesday. (Source: WAFF Staff)
Christopher Henderson (Source: Madison County Jail) Christopher Henderson (Source: Madison County Jail)
(Source: GoFundMe/Smallwood-Sokolowski Family Fund) (Source: GoFundMe/Smallwood-Sokolowski Family Fund)

A Madison County man facing seven counts of capital murder appeared before a judge Tuesday afternoon.

The judge will determine whether the state has enough evidence to send Christopher Henderson's case to a grand jury.

Henderson and Rhonda Carlson are charged with the the Aug. 4 murders of five people in Madison County.

Henderson faces the following charges:

  • Capital Murder, for murder committed during an arson, with the victim being Eli Sokolowski, 1
  • Capital Murder during a burglary in the first or second degree, with the victim being Jean Smallwood, 67
  • Capital Murder where two or more people are murdered by the defendant, with the victims being:  Jean Smallwood, Kristen Henderson (with unborn infant), Clayton Chambers, and Eli Sokolowski.
  • Capital Murder where a court has issued a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order, with the victim being Kristen Henderson, 35
  • Capital Murder for a victim that is less than fourteen years of age, with the victim being Clayton Chambers, 8
  • Capital Murder for a victim that is less than fourteen years of age, with the victim being Eli Sokolowski
  • Capital Murder for a victim that is less than fourteen years of age, with the victim being the unborn infant of Kristen Henderson

The victims' bodies were found inside the charred remains of a home on St. Clair Lane in Madison County after firefighters put out a fire at the home.

A sheriff's investigator testified Tuesday that there is surveillance video from the home of Rhonda Carlson and Henderson carrying a gas can on Aug. 4.

The investigator also confirmed that Jean Smallwood was the only one of the victims who were shot; the others were stabbed to death. It was also confirmed Kristen Henderson was nine months pregnant with Christopher Henderson's child, and was expected to deliver "any day."

A .22-caliber gun was found in Carlson's truck, according to the investigator.

The Madison County District Attorney said he believes the evidence speaks for itself.

"It's not often that you have videotape that's surrounding an incident like this, where you end up finding a bunch of victims in a house that's just been set on fire," said Rob Broussard, "and you have the accused at the same time on videotape going in and then coming out of the house."

This evidence will now go before a grand jury. Carlson's preliminary hearing is scheduled for a later date.

Background of the case 

Court documents show Kristen Henderson and Christopher Henderson were undergoing divorce and custody proceedings. Christopher filed for divorce on July 14. According to divorce paperwork, the couple was living in a home with Kristen's parents, sister, brother-in-law and two children. The complaint goes on to say that Christopher was forced to leave the residence. 

In the divorce filing, Christopher said he was the biological father of Kristen's unborn child, which was due Sept. 2. Christopher said Kristen told him he would not be allowed to be at the child's birth nor allowed any contact with the child after the birth.

Court documents indicate Christopher Henderson was petitioning a judge for intervention with contact related to the child.

READ MORE: Divorce Complaint Filed by Christopher Henderson (PDF)

A judge signed off on a restraining order against Christopher Henderson, which was served at a south Huntsville apartment on Thursday. According to court documents, Kristen Henderson alleged Christopher struck her during an argument on June 23 at Madison Square Mall, which was the grounds for the restraining order.

On Friday, Kristen Henderson filed paperwork to dismiss Christopher's divorce petition. Court paperwork says that Kristen found that Christopher married Rhonda Jean Carlson, 42, in Madison County in February 2013 - 19 months before Kristen and Christopher were married in Fayetteville, TN in Sept. 26, 2014. Kristen and Christopher later moved to Michigan, before moving back to Madison County. Court documents state there is no public record of divorce between Christopher Henderson and Carlson. Christopher's previous marriage to Carlson would render his marriage to Kristen void, so Kristen said that there was no need for a divorce.

READ MORE: Motion to Dismiss Divorce Complaint filed by Kristen Henderson (PDF)

In an application for a protective order against Christopher, Kristen Henderson wrote the following:

"He has lied about everything since we met and if he's willing to hit me once, then he might hit me again."

In June, court paperwork says that Christopher Henderson abandoned Kristen at Walmart on South Memorial Parkway, before video surveillance captured him getting into a vehicle with another woman.

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