VISTA – Dontaye Henderson, 29, of Oceanside, received a punishment of 80-years-to life in prison for the murder of his wife Tamara Henderson on New Year’s Day 2011, and the judge said that he wasn’t entitled to any good conduct credits before he is eligible for parole.Henderson asked for a new trial, but was denied one by San Diego County Superior Court Judge Robert Kearney.
“I can’t think of any reason to give you a new trial,” Kearney said. The judge credited Henderson’s court-appointed attorney Jack Campbell of doing a good job for the defense. “I think the evidence was overwhelming, you shot Tamara. I think the evidence was overwhelming that you let her lie there for a time period before you called 911.”
Last month a jury convicted Henderson of first-degree murder
and also for possessing a gun while on parole, which was a felony violation that added five years to the 75-years-to-life sentence for murder.
Tamara Henderson’s family was at each day of the trial, and her mother and sister spoke to Dontaye Henderson after his prison sentence was imposed.
Elsie Billups, Tamara’s mother, stood next to large picture of her daughter.
Billups talked of what a go-getter her daughter had been, and said that that Tamara was an Army reservist who was working toward a career in nursing.
Henderson looked at Billups through a glass window as she read her statement to him.
Billups said the family chain was broken now, but she had forgiven him, otherwise it would eat her up inside.
“Dontaye, I forgive you. I feel sorry for you. You wanted what Tamara had,” she said.
She told him that he had been afraid that Tamara would wake up one day and see that he wasn’t the man that she needed.
She also said that although she knew he wouldn’t care, that she would take great care of the kids.
Tara Billups, 19, took her turn at the podium. Her voice cracked through tears as she read the song lyrics of “Today My Life Begins” by Bruno Mars.
Tamara and Dontaye Henderson had a son, who is now 2-years-old, and Tamara had a daughter, now 7, from a previous relationship.
Billups said she plans to move out of the state to live near family once the adoption is finalized.
Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told the court during the trial that Henderson shot Tamara in front of the kids as they were all preparing for church services.
Henderson called 9-1-1 nearly an hour later, fled the scene and cut off his parole-issued GPS tracking bracelet.
The two young children were sitting by the Christmas tree in their apartment when authorities arrived, he said.
Three days later, Henderson was captured in St. Louis, Mo. and brought back to the county to face charges.
He was already on parole for a 2003 conviction of spousal rape of his wife in a previous relationship.
Henderson testified at his trial for murder that the gun accidentally went off as she tried to wrestle it away from him after he had threatened to take his own life.