Henderson is denied parole

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, November 26, 2003

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
Convicted arsonist Gary Henderson was denied parole at his hearing before the State Board of Pardons and Paroles this past Wednesday, and won't be eligible for release again until 2005.
It was the second recent parole hearing for the man convicted in 1996 of burning an Escambia County church.
Henderson, 45, originally came before the State Parole Board on Oct. 8, and was granted his release. But the board set another hearing, for Wed., Nov. 19, after Henderson's impending release was protested by many in the community, including the convicted arsonist's ex-wife.
Henderson remained behind bars after his Oct. 8 hearing, at which the board voted to parole him. That's because there is a waiting period between an inmate being granted parole and his actually walking free.
Henderson has been serving three life sentences at the Elmore Correctional facility since his conviction in 1996.
One was handed down in Escambia County, for the burning of Pleasant Hill Holiness Church in Wallace. Henderson was a volunteer fireman at the time of the church burning.
The other two life sentences were issued by Conecuh County juries in 1997, for a pair of arsons Henderson was convicted of there.
Before being convicted of the arsons in Escambia and Conecuh Counties in 1996 and 1997, Henderson served prison sentences for arsons committed in Mobile and Washington Counties in the early 80s.
Prior to Henderson's original parole hearing on Oct. 8, local District Attorney Mike Godwin was made aware of the upcoming hearing and offered a chance to enter his opinion on the matter into the record.
Godwin's letter to the parole board in response, dated Sept. 9, read, "The District Attorney's Office for the 21st Judicial Circuit strongly opposes the board's granting the above-referenced defendant parole. This inmate is a pyromaniac…There could be no greater risk to society than releasing this inmate on parole."

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