The Missouri Court of Appeals didn't buy Shauntay Henderson's argument that she got bad representation in her Jackson County murder trial.
Henderson, a Kansas City resident once deemed by the FBI as one of its most-wanted suspects, told the appellate court that her lawyer in a 2008 trial in Jackson County for second-degree murder didn't call a witness she thought could have helped her case.
Henderson was charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing DeAndre Parker at a Kansas City, Missouri, gas station in 2006.
She claimed that Parker was driving a Ford F-150 right at her and that she'd shot Parker in self-defense, an explanation that helped her escape the second-degree murder conviction but still had her on the hook for voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
She did three years in prison and was mostly free (she still had a probation term following her release) before getting picked up a few months later on a federal firearms charge, to which she pleaded guilty in 2010. She's now doing time at a federal joint in Waseca, Minnesota. Her prison term there is expected to last until January 30, 2017.
The Missouri appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Henderson hadn't met the burden of proof that her trial lawyer did shoddy work. The lawyer was almost ready to call Charles Allen to testify in the 2008 trial. Henderson maintains that Allen was with Henderson at the gas station the night of the shooting and could have testified that he saw the Ford truck driving toward Henderson. That testimony presumably would have supported Henderson's self-defense claim.
But Henderson's attorney told the appeals court that he passed on putting Allen on the stand because Allen didn't actually see the shooting. His testimony would have, the lawyer said, "distracted from her [Henderson's] story, which I thought was real and compelling."
Henderson's trial in 2008 was a bench trial, meaning that it was a judge and not a jury who decided her fate.
That judge who convicted her said in court documents that "if there had been 10 people who corroborated Ms. Henderson's testimony, my decision in the case still would have been the same," because she could have done more to avoid shooting the driver of the truck.
"I thought she was justified in taking the action she took to an extent," the judge wrote, "but I still think she could have outmaneuvered a Ford F-150 and gotten herself out of harm's way, and it was upon that basis that I didn't give her complete self-defense and ruled as I ruled."