Twenty-three-year-old Felix Jerome Jefferson III, of Lynchburg, was sentenced this afternoon in Campbell County Circuit Court on charges of second degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony in the April 2018 killing of Lisa Simone Henderson, a resident of Appomattox.
Jefferson was given 20 years for the second degree murder charge plus three years mandatory minimum on the firearm charge.
Marquie Brandon Williams was given a life sentence last month for first degree murder in the case.
During Jefferson's testimony on the witness stand before the sentence was announced, Commonwealth's Attorney Paul McAndrews grilled him about various statements he had made to police and in a 2018 preliminary hearing.
One of those statements was in regard to Jefferson's knowledge of why Williams had led he and Henderson deep into the woods on April 5, 2018, the night of her death.
Jefferson had maintained that he thought they were going to retrieve buried guns as he had done with Williams in the past. But today Jefferson changed his story in court, eventually agreeing with McAndrews that he had a feeling something was going to happen to Henderson. Jefferson said he became suspicious when Williams ordered everyone to leave their cell phones at his residence before saying they were all three going for a ride.
Also mentioned was an argument between Williams and Henderson at some point before the shooting took place that night in which they allegedly asked each other "How could you do this to me?" McAndrews had previously stated that jealousy over text messages on Henderson's phone may have been a motive, but Williams has never given a reason for the murder.
Jefferson stated that after Williams shot Henderson in the back, he was handed a .38 caliber handgun and was ordered to shoot Henderson also. Jefferson said he closed his eyes and fired in Henderson's direction but didn't believe he actually shot her because it was dark, and that he acted on Williams's order out of fear due to Williams threatening his own life.
However, McAndrews did not believe Jefferson feared retribution from Williams, a gang member and gun runner, because of their friendly relationship and because Williams already had him "on the hook" for shooting Henderson as well. Two .38 caliber bullet wounds were among the nine found on Henderson's body.
Jefferson read a letter of apology to Henderson's family, at which point tears flowed and sobs were heard throughout the courtroom.
McAndrews pointed out that Jefferson has been much more cooperative during the investigation than Williams. Jefferson led police to the location of Henderson's body five days after the murder. But McAndrews believes Jefferson has been downplaying his role in the crime to protect himself.
Jefferson's defense attorney Dirk Padgett argued that Jefferson was a somewhat naive young man who found himself in bad company and made bad choices out of fear because he was overwhelmed by the unexpected murder.
After court, Henderson's mother, Sandra, expressed her appreciation for Jefferson's cooperation and statement of remorse. She also feels justice has been served overall but that Jefferson should have been given a longer sentence to serve. She also expressed that although the trial phase is over, the pain of losing Lisa will remain for her and her family.
McAndrews said that second degree murder was the appropriate charge in Jefferson's case and that the state guidelines call for 13-21 years. McAndrews argued for a sentence above the guidelines in court today.
For the rest of the story, see the Feb. 12 edition of the Times Virginian.