Repeat Offender Gets Life Without Parole in 2008 Slaying of Montgomery Woman

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By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 6, 2009

A repeat criminal whose case inspired calls for longer prison stays in Maryland was sentenced Wednesday to life without the possibility of parole for shooting a Montgomery County woman in the back of the head last year, a killing he committed after serving barely half of a previous sentence for armed robberies in which he slashed two of the victims' throats.

In addition to the life term on charges of first-degree murder and robbery, Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Terrence J. McGann also gave Shawn M. Henderson 20 years for a gun charge and told him that he would have given him more time if he could.

"Because of your violent and horrific crimes, beginning in 1999 and culminating with your slaughtering of Lindsay Harvey, you have permanently forfeited your right to freedom," McGann told Henderson.

McGann said that the jury in the Harvey trial this year appropriately rejected an excuse that Henderson had been drinking the night she was killed.

"You drank some booze to bolster your cowardly resolve," McGann said. "But the jury wasn't fooled and gave it the credit it deserved."

Henderson's previous prison sentence stems from three attacks over a 24-hour period in December 1999, when he was 17. In two of the attacks, he slashed his victims' throats after they had handed over money. Those people survived. Henderson pleaded guilty in July 2000 and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

While incarcerated, Henderson racked up "good-time" credits at a rate of more than 15 a month, with each credit shaving a day off his sentence. He also benefited from a judge who reconsidered his sentence, reducing it by two years. He left prison in April 2006.

Two years later, he encountered Harvey. She had gone out with friends from work April 12, pulling up to her Gaithersburg apartment complex about 1:30 a.m. the next morning. She got out and headed for her apartment. Walking toward her, armed with a .40-caliber handgun, was Henderson, who had been out of prison for almost two years. "Get away from me! No!" she yelled, charging documents say.

Harvey tried to run behind a dumpster.

"Her pleas for mercy were ignored," McGann said, speaking to Henderson at the hearing. "You pressed the muzzle of your gun against her head. You squeezed the trigger."

At the hearing were two Montgomery police captains who are pushing for "truth in sentencing" changes in Maryland, which would require violent offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole.

"It doesn't make any sense that the system is this way," said Capt. Patricia Walker, commander of Montgomery's major-crime unit.

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