Home Local News Lea County jury finds Henderson not guilty in triple murder case

Lea County jury finds Henderson not guilty in triple murder case

18 min read

Gabrielle Arsiage/News-Sun

LOVINGTON — On Monday Bishop Henderson III was found not guilty in the triple murder trial that began 19 days ago.

In 2019, Henderson was arrested and charged in the shooting deaths Kalil Carter, 18, of Hobbs, Kristal Avena, 24, of Hobbs, and Lamar Lee-Kane Jr., 22, of Washington, D.C., and the injuring of four others at a house party in Hobbs where he was a DJ.

From bullet fragments found in the deceased that didn’t match Henderson’s gun, to a detective accused of lying to the defendant to coerce a confession, the jury found reasonable doubt as to Henderson’s guilt.

“I think what caught me most about (Hobbs Police Det. Sergeant Ahmaad) White was — it’s the day of the shooting — he brings Mr. Henderson in, and he lied to Bishop about having a video of him shooting a kid in the face,” Patterson told the jury during her closing arguments. “Bishop actually responded to him and said, ‘No, you’re lying,’ and (White) was, and he admitted it. When asked who would want to do this, Bishop said ‘it could’ve been’ Kei’manuel Wright, Devarian Gibson, and Keeshon Cantu. Apparently all three of those boys are ‘GMB’ or ‘Get Money Boys’ and then also Johnny McBride. Additionally, (Hobbs Police Det. Mark) Monroe and his cell phone expertise actually placed Johnny McBride at the scene.

“White admitted that Kei’manuel Wright and Devarian Gibson are his cousins. White stated to Bishop, ‘I wholeheartedly believe there were alley shooters.’ When I (Patterson) asked him on the stand, he stated that was a lie. But yet, we have video, when he’s speaking with other officers at the hospital, and he is speaking about Bishop, he says, ‘He (Bishop) didn’t shoot those people,’ and White admitted at the time that was the truth. White stated that Devarian Gibson’s mother, Tammie Wright, lives across the alley. She actually lives where that water meter is raised up in the alley and the casings were located.”

While the prosecution did not argue there “may have been” alley shooters, they remained adamant in their closings Henderson was in possession of two firearms when the shooting occurred — a revolver and the 9 mm Taurus.

“The gun that we know about, the 9 mm semiautomatic Taurus that was collected from the safe is the gun that Bishop Henderson let the police find. He likely had a revolver and a semiautomatic because we know that the shots came from a revolver and it’s unlikely they picked up the casings,” Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce said in her closing.

Patterson countered in her arguments, firearms expert for the State of New Mexico Kevin Streine testified “at least six guns” were involved in the shooting. There were more casings than guns identified, four casings were fired by an unknown firearm. Henderson’s Taurus was “eliminated from firing any of the projectiles recovered,” and no revolver or casings from a revolver were ever recovered, Patterson said.

“The projectiles in Khalil Carter and Lamar Lee Kane matched each other, but did not match any firearms analyzed — including Bishop’s gun, but yet the state would have you convict him of murder when his gun didn’t match those projectiles,” Patterson said.

“Now, the alley shooter — shooting from the elevated point of the water meter — where the casings were found, and I remember the state in closings saying something about ‘popped off a shot’ we know there were four casings,” Patterson told jurors. “There’s been discussion and the state actually said in their opening they were going to place a revolver in Henderson’s hands which they haven’t. But if there was a revolver the revolver would not kick any casings out.”

Patterson also claimed their defense expert, Jim Hardy, was able to line up the trajectory of a single bullet found in the yard they believe was the one that killed Kristal Avena, from the alley, through her and landing in the backyard of the party.

“Hardy talked about the alley shooter, shooting from an elevated position of the water meter where casings were found, shooting at a downward trajectory over the fence, hitting Avena … projectile 98. Blood spots on the vehicle roof confirm Avena’s location at the rear left side of the vehicle.”

Patterson also pointed out there were “82 items swabbed for DNA” and none were presented with DNA evidence at the trial.

During closing arguments, Luce did her best to prove to the jury Henderson was the lone backyard shooter at the party on Bond Street in Aug. 2019, and ultimately lead to the death of three and injured four.

“Every single witness says there’s either no shooter in the yard or there’s only one shooter in the yard,” Luce said during her closing statements. “We know that Bishop Henderson said to Sgt. Ahmaad White, ‘Everybody in the street carries a gun.’”

According to Luce their expert, HPD’s Jessica Quiroz, and defense’s expert Hardy, both agreed shots found on the north wall of the home came from a revolver — but the defense argued Henderson was only found with a 9 mm. Luce argued just because they weren’t able to find the revolver doesn’t mean Henderson wasn’t in possession of one.

After closing arguments, the jury was given instruction and returned after only about two hours of deliberation at around 2:30 p.m. with a verdict of not guilty on all seven counts.

While Henderson’s attorneys only had a year to do research and request discovery on the case, it was more than enough to prove Henderson’s innocence his defense team said.

“When I first got this case last year, I talked to Kevin Clemments (investigator for the defense) and just reading through the file — which was about an inch thick — I said, ‘This kid didn’t do this Kevin we’ve got to do something.’ He looked through the file and said ‘You’re right.’ … It took all four (attorneys at her law firm) of us and all four of us believed in Bishop 110 percent,” Sandra Gallagher said in a statement to the News-Sun.

Patterson was critical of the role HPD played in Henderson’s case.

“When I used the state acting as an ostrich with their head in the sand that had to with clearly everybody in that courtroom knowing there were alley shooters but they wanted to act like there really weren’t alley shooters,” Patterson said. “They just didn’t want to see the things that we saw. The biggest issue was the first day of the shooting they just brought Bishop in and said ‘let’s play hardball, okay you did it.

“And did they really look at anybody else? Did they really bring anybody else in? Did they question anybody else? When the defense team has to find your evidence for you there’s something wrong and so it was shoddy.”

Patterson also said the defense didn’t even receive requested records until February.

“Until Feb. 2022 I did not get medical records from any of the gunshot victims who went to the hospital. We got several hundred search warrant and crime scene photos just a few months after that. Our investigators were officers for 20 and 25 years and they literally did the investigation themselves,” Patterson said. “If Bishop were guilty would we have found projectiles in the house that had kids in it? Of course not. We knew that Bishop was innocent and I wouldn’t have personally been involved in the case if he wasn’t.

“Monroe told Johnny McBride after his name was raised and his cell phone was pinged and he was right there within a block of this happening and telling him from the get-go, ‘Now, I’m not even going to read you your rights, it’s okay, don’t think you’re a suspect, we’ve already got the guy who did this.’ He did the same to Kei’manuel Wright. And that’s why we never received any of video related to their interviews until we were in the middle of the trial.”

“The District Attorney’s office appreciates the service of the jurors. We are saddened that the victims did not receive justice,” Luce said about the case.

After being released from custody, Henderson told the News-Sun he has compassion for the families of those killed.

“I’m sorry for their loss. I hope they get the justice they deserve,” Henderson told the News-Sun.

Henderson said after spending three years in jail while being accused of a crime he was found not guilty of, he was just relieved to be going home.

“I’m glad to be home. It took too long. I don’t even know what to say,” Henderson said. “I feel good. I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m going to take off out of here as soon as possible.

“I’ve got work lined up in Odessa. I’m gonna work in the oilfield a bit. I’m ready to start a family with my love. It don’t feel real (to be out of jail). I love my family.”

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