The man responsible for killing five members of his own extended family at a home in New Market in 2015 was sentenced to death Thursday inside a Madison County courtroom.
Christopher Henderson showed no emotion as his sentence was read by the judge and did not speak to reporters as he was led away from the courtroom.
Henderson was found guilty on 15 counts of capital murder back in July. The individual charges are listed at the end of this story. Jurors recommended the death penalty in the case.
Henderson addressed the court before the sentence was read.
"I would like to give deepest apologies this is an event that should have never happened," he said. "I apologize to my mom and my daughter — sorry I wasn’t there for you. Your honor, I laid in bed with Covid for the last month. The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, but I won’t stop till I’m cleared from this."
The district attorney’s office told WAAY 31 this case was the "most horrific case they have ever tried here in Madison County, at least in the last 30 years." Assistant District Attorney Tim Gann said cases like these are the reason people have the death penalty.
“It is really the most awful thing you can imagine, killing kids, women and the unborn," Gann said. "It is unspeakable what he did in this case."
Henderson said nothing as he was escorted out of the courtroom. He will be transferred to the Alabama Department of Corrections' custody as his appeal begins.
“There is no way this family is ever going to be made right, but this is all that we can do on earth to get justice," Gann said.
Henderson's defense attorney, Bruce Gardner, argued for the judge to spare Henderson’s life. But even he said he wasn't surprised by the sentencing.
“This is a really tough case," Gardner said. "Facts are the facts. They were horrendous to have to deal with."
Henderson was indicted on 19 counts of capital murder, which can be defined as murder while committing another crime or murder of a child under the age of 14 years old. The 15 for which Henderson was convicted are broken down as follows:
• Murder while committing the crime of first-degree burglary (five counts, or one per victim);
• Murder while committing the crime of murder involving two or more victims (one count, for Kristen Smallwood);
• Murder while committing the crime of first-degree arson (five counts);
• Murder while committing the crime of violating a protection from abuse order (one count, for Kristen Smallwood); and
• Murder of a child under age 14 (three counts, or one per child victim).