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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Tale of Two Sisters

The Austin-American Statesman has a long article on two of the daughters of Cathy Henderson, who is scheduled for execution on Wednesday, June 13. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals could rule on Monday whether it will stay the scheduled execution date in light of new developments in scientific methods of evaluating head injuries.

Their mother is Cathy Lynn Henderson, a Travis County woman scheduled to die Wednesday for murdering Brandon Baugh, a 3-month-old boy she was baby-sitting, in 1994.

Jennifer Henderson, 17, wants her mother to get a new trial and one day be set free.

(Melissa) Bradshaw, 28, wants Cathy Lynn Henderson dead.

...

late last year, a judge set Cathy Henderson's execution for April 18.

"It really hit me hard," Jennifer Henderson said. "I didn't want to go to school. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I was moping around. It sucked."

She said she became overwhelmed with anxiety, began taking Valium and ended up in the hospital. She said therapy and the support of her friends and family helped her pull out of the tailspin. Then she decided she needed to help her mother.

Against the advice of her stepmother and father, she went to school with fliers detailing her mother's case. Her teachers agreed to give her a couple of minutes to address her classmates, and Jennifer Henderson revealed that her real mother was on death row for murdering a child. She told them her mom didn't do it and asked them to write to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. "It was like going on a stage by yourself in front of the entire school pretty much," she said. "It was very nerve-racking."

She said her classmates were supportive, and a handful joined her at an April court date during which her mother's lawyers asked for more time to file an appeal. They were successful, and the execution date was moved to this month.

Different dreams

As her mother's appointment with death creeps closer, Jennifer Henderson is hoping the courts will step in again. She dreams of one day walking through a mall with her mother or having lunch with her at a restaurant.

If no reprieve comes, she plans to be with her father outside the gates of the prison in Huntsville that contains the death chamber. Her father won't allow her to be in the witness room to watch the execution.

Bradshaw said she won't be in Huntsville on Wednesday. She is busy studying, moving toward her goal of attending Oregon State University in a couple of years.

Her mother's execution, she said, will be "relieving."

"Finally that chapter in my life could actually be done with now," she said. "And I can stop looking over my shoulder."

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