Second defendant in Lisa Henderson murder case pleads guilty

This morning in Campbell County Circuit Court, a second man charged in connection with the April 2018 murder of Appomattox resident Lisa Simone Henderson entered a plea of guilt for his involvement in the crime. 

Felix Jerome Jefferson III, 23, of Lynchburg, pleaded guilty to felony charges of second degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. 

Jefferson will appear in court sometime in January to set a date for sentencing. The firearm charge carries a mandatory minimum three-year sentence. The second degree murder charge ranges from five to 40 years of imprisonment. 

In September, the first defendant, 27-year-old Marquie Brandon Williams, also of Lynchburg, pleaded guilty to first degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and grand larceny. Williams is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 3. He faces 20 years to life without parole. 

Today, Campbell County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul McAndrews summarized what evidence would have been presented by the prosecution had the case against Jefferson gone to trial. 

According to the evidence, on April 5, 2018, Jefferson and Henderson had been playing video games at the home of Williams when Williams told them they were going for a ride and to leave their cell phones at the home. 

When they arrived at a wooded area off Plum Branch Road in Concord, the three entered the woods. Williams had allegedly stated that they were going to retrieve some buried guns. Williams was a gang member and gun runner who transported firearms back and forth to the Baltimore, Md., area. 

Williams, who had been dating Henderson, then shot her with a .45-caliber pistol, an act thought to be motivated by jealousy over a potential breakup or a suspected affair. Williams has never given a motive for the crime, according to McAndrews. But text messages on Henderson's phone led authorities to believe Williams likely acted in a premeditated manner because Henderson was discontinuing their relationship. 

Jefferson had originally denied shooting Henderson, saying he only shot at her but missed intentionally after being ordered by Williams to shoot with a .38-caliber pistol. However, two matching .38-caliber bullets were found in Henderson's body - one in the head and one in the torso - elevating charges against Jefferson from an accessory to a murder suspect. 

In total, Henderson received nine bullet wounds from her killers. 

Henderson's corpse was found on April 10 after Jefferson led investigators to the location. Although he had made conflicting statements, according to McAndrews, Jefferson's cooperation was vital in locating Henderson's body - a sentiment echoed by Jefferson's defense attorney Dick Padgett, Jr.

After court, Padgett described Jefferson as a young man who only had a prior marijuana charge on his criminal record until getting involved with "the wrong crowd." Padgett said Jefferson entered the woods with no intention of committing a murder and was not privy to Williams' plan until the incident unfolded.

In a 2018 preliminary hearing, Jefferson stated that he shot at Henderson out of fear of retribution by Williams, who had allegedly threatened him. 

Padgett stated that if Williams had gone to trial, Jefferson was prepared to testify against him. 

For additional information, see the Dec. 4 edition of the Times Virginian.