For the third time in two years the jury trial of Bishop Henderson, who is the only person charged in the 2019 mass shooting that killed three people at a house party in Hobbs, will be postponed for a jury trial.
In a pretrial conference on Monday, Fifth Judicial District Lea Kirksey granted the defense attorney’s request to continue Henderson’s trial another six months due to evidence still needing to be processed, pretrial interview’s needing to be conducted and the defense attorney’s medical problems.
Now the hearing is scheduled to begin on Nov. 8, more than two years after a backyard party, filled with mostly college students, came under fire.
Henderson, 20, of Hobbs, was arrested in the August 2019 after three people were killed and another four injured during a party. Henderson, the party DJ, was said by witnesses in previous hearings to not only be holding a gun but firing into the air and pointing at someone at a beer pong table.
Henderson told police he began shooting after individuals started firing into the party from over the backyard fence but he never gave police names, according to the Hobbs Police Department criminal complaint.
Kirksey told the court Monday morning this should be the last time the case is continued due to it pending in the district court system for so long.
“It needs to go to trial at that point,” Kirksey said in the hearing. “I know that the continuances have not been the fault of really anyone here but this matter needs to go to trial.”
Not only has Henderson’s case been delayed but Henderson’s defense attorney has changed three times as well and has contributed to the continuances.
Originally Henderson was represented by long-time Hobbs defense attorney Barry Crutchfield, who withdrew one month before Henderson was scheduled to go to trial in October 2020, due to health issues.
Soon after, the case was given to the Lea County Public Defenders office and was transferred to Albuquerque Assistant Public Defender Martin Juarez.
Juarez requested a continuance to give time to review the case, which was granted by Kirksey. The case was moved to March 2021.
Once again, less than a month before the hearing was set to begin Juarez withdrew from the case. In the motion it states, “the Law Office of the Public Defender has a conflict in representation.”
Attorney Sandra Gallagher of Portales was appointed to the case and the hearing moved back two months to being in late May. However, Gallagher once again asked for a continuance due to her health and to ensure evidence on the defense’s part will be investigated properly the continuance is needed.
“Mr. Henderson and I have had a long conversation and he is aware of the defense plan and things that we need to have accomplished,” Gallagher said. “We talked about the length of the case, I know he wants to have it tried, but certainly we agree that it needs to be ready before we go to trial.”
Gallagher’s office did not respond for comment as of press time Monday.
Henderson is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. on June 14 for another pretrial hearing to ensure the case is moving forward.